The gallbladder is a small organ that helps during the digestive process. It is essentially a small storage sack for bile and communicates with the bile ducts that drain the liver. However, it can be subject to a number of diseases. For instance, gallstones are perhaps the most common condition associated with the gallbladder. These stones can sometimes cause significant abdominal pain and require surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) for treatment. Other conditions that can affect the gallbladder include gallbladder cancer and cholecystitis.
The traditional treatment for recurrent cholecystitis and many other conditions affecting the gallbladder is to perform a cholecystectomy. This is the term used to describe the surgical removal of the gallbladder itself, and is considered a common treatment.
Cholecystectomy is performed in the case of symptomatic gallstones in the or inflammation of the gallbladder, and even in cases where the pancreas is inflamed due to gallstones. However, it is an invasive treatment, requires the removal of an organ, and requires at least minimal recovery time. Transpapillary gallbladder stenting is an alternative endoscopic treatment of the gallbladder that does not require surgery.
While gallbladder removal is generally a short procedure and sometimes does not even require an overnight stay in the hospital or clinic, it is still an invasive procedure. Thus some patients may not good surgical candidates or some patients may refuse surgery in general. Transpapillary gallbladder stenting is a minimally invasive option that offers even faster procedure time and less recovery time, coupled with reduced discomfort and pain. Of course, one of the primary benefits here is that this treatment method actually alleviates the cause of the symptoms without removing the gallbladder. However, it is generally reserved for high-risk patients that are not good surgical candidates or those who refuse surgery.
Transpapillary Gallbladder Stenting is a completely endoscopic procedure performed via ERCP. Traditionally, ERCP has been mainly used to treat stones and blockages of the main (common) bile duct. However new technologies and techniques allow endoscopists to access the gallbladder via ERCP and place stents into the gallbladder directly across its natural drainage pathway (the ampulla). This allows the gallbladder to drain freely and prevents stones from causing pain or symptoms to patients. This stent that is placed in the gallbladder can be removed if needed, or stay in place indefinitely to treat the gallbladder.
As mentioned, only certain patients are considered candidates for transpapillary gallbladder stenting. Patients with liver disease or other medical conditions who are not able to go through conventional surgery are the primary candidates for this treatment. However, there are others who might be considered candidates, as well, including any patients who would prefer an endoscopic approach to surgery. Endoscopy can be performed safely on elderly patients as well.
Understand that all procedures, whether surgical or endoscopy include inherent risks. However, transpapillary gallbladder stenting seems to be both effective overall, and safe for patients. Very few adverse events have been reported with this technique.
Are you interested in learning more about transpapillary gallbladder stenting, or other treatment options? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.