Ten percent of Americans have gallstones – cholesterol or calcium salt deposits that form in the gallbladder or adjacent bile ducts. Just 20 percent of gallstone cases cause attacks. During an attack, the patient suffers an intensely steady ache in the upper abdomen accompanied by nausea. Separate from an attack, chronic indigestion may also occur with gallstones. The recommended way to treat symptomatic gallstones is to perform a cholecystectomy to remove the gallbladder. This procedure is one of the safest and most commonly performed in the United States. Gallbladder removal is most often done laparoscopically, using a thin, lit tube and miniature video camera. Since the patient undergoes only a few minor incisions, recovery is quick and postoperative pain is minimal.
P.S. Open surgery is sometimes necessary when gallbladder walls are excessively thick or hard.