Gallstones? New Device Makes Gallbladder Removal Unnecessary
Do you know someone who had gallstones and had their gallbladder removed? Perhaps it was you. But in the future, use of a new device may make gallbladder removal unnecessary.
Gallbladder removal is a common surgery
Surgery to remove the gallbladder, known as a cholecystectomy, is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States, performed on more than half a million people each year. The surgery is chosen when other methods, such as medications or ultrasound to break up the stones (lithotripsy) have not been successful in relieving symptoms or eliminating the stones.
Conventional cholecystecomy involves removing the gallbladder by one of two methods: laparoscopically through four small incisions in the abdomen with the assistance of a tiny video camera; or through one large incision in the abdomen. Both methods are associated with side effects and complications, although the laparoscopic technique, which is more common, is less risky.
A team of scientists in China, however, have developed a device that allows removal of gallstones without taking out the gallbladder. The patented, specially designed endoscope allows clinicians to locate and remove gallstones and other gallbladder lesions by sucking them out of the body like a vacuum.
In the American Institute of Physics’ Review of Scientific Instruments, the scientists describe how the ultrasonic probe at the end of the endoscope can find even the smallest gallstones. The new device also has a channel so fluids can be injected into the gallbladder to make it easier for clinicians to do the procedure, and it also can connect to any type of camera system.
Use of the new device was compared with another type of endoscope at two hospitals, and there was reportedly “no significant difference” in safety between the two methods. In addition, the authors report that the new device provides better flexibility, reliability, and image quality than existing methods.
Gallstones are pebble-like objects that form when liquid (bile) stored in the gallbladder hardens. Bile is a mixture of water, proteins, fats, cholesterol, bile salts, and bilirubin, which is a waste product.