The gallbladder is a pear shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver. It stores bile produced by the liver, which is used to aid digestion. The bile travels into the small intestine via bile ducts, the largest being the common bile duct.
Bile salts can form "stones" in the gallbladder or bile duct. This can cause severe pain. Surgical removal maybe indicated. This is known as a cholecystectomy. Most people are candidates for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which is not as invasive as open surgery. Under anesthesia the surgeon inserts a tiny telescope connected to a camera through a cannula, which is inserted through the navel. The surgeon sees the operative field in a magnified way on a television monitor. Other cannulas are inserted, through which cutting instruments can be placed to separated the gallbladder from its attachments and then remove it through one of the openings. The surgeon is assisted with a cholangiogram, which is a special xray used to identify stones and the anatomical structures. Once the surgery is completed, the small openings can be sutured closed.
Some patients are not good candidates for laparoscopic surgery, and must have open surgery, which is more invasive. This would include patients who have had previous abdominal surgery where there may be a lot of scar tissue. This would make laparoscopic surgery too difficult. The benefit of laparoscopic surgery is that it is less invasive. However, the operative field is more restrictive and the surgeon cannot feel or move the structures with his gloved hand. Where there is a lot of scar tissue open surgery is needed. At times the surgeon may attempt laparoscopic surgery, but then needs to convert to open surgery.
In the hands of a skilled surgeon the risks of this surgery are very low. The most common error we find is the failure of the surgeon to convert to open surgery when laparoscopic surgery becomes too dangerous due to the abundance of scar tissue. Where the operative field is obscured by scar tissue or inflammation the surgeon could cut through the common bile duct, and sometimes not even know it. This could have devastating consequences to the patient and result in major infection. Major surgery is necessary to repair the damage after the infection is treated.
Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP has extensive experience to representing victims of negligently performed gallbladder surgery. In one case, which was tried in Orange County, the jury awarded $1,000,000 to our client. The surgeon in that case had previously testified as an expert for a plaintiff in a case involving the identical claims for which he was being sued for by our client. His testimony in our case was contradicted by his prior testimony. He did not know that we had his prior testimony, which we used to cross examine him with.
If you have been injured during gallbladder surgery you can contact Weisfuse & Weisfuse LLP at 212 983 3000, or send email to [email protected]