abdnormal Gallbladder emptying

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Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 1/9/2007 2:18 PM (GMT -6)   
I posted a while back about my history, beginning in late August 2006, of a recurring "stomach flu". I had a colonoscopy, endoscopy, extensive blood work and stool samples, CT scan, and ultrasound. All were negative except a colonoscopy biopsy which showed an infection - probably viral per the GI. Over the next 3 months or so, I became less acutely ill but still struggled with terrible feelings of indigestion, upper abdominal discomfort that sometimes radiated to my upper back, burping, gas, bloating, nausea, and yellowish, frequint - though well-formed - stools. Finally, I had a HIDA scan. By the way, I asked the doctor to order it after reading about it on this message board! He was certain I had no gallabladder problem but ordere the test to appease me. Well, what do you know, I have a very low emptpying rate - 14%. Normal is 45-50% ejection-fraction. I saw a new GI who referred me to a surgeon. Both told me that the decision to have my gallbladder removed was mine. They were not willing to tell me that it definitely needed to come out. In fact, they said I had a very difficult decision to make since I might still have the same symptoms once the gallbladder is removed. Apparently, an abnormal HIDA scan does not necessarily warrant getting the gallbladder removed per these 2 MD's. What an agonizing decision. It would have been much easier if they would have said that it definitely needs to come out. The surgeon even said we could repeat the HIDA scan if I wasn't sure what to do. Well, I decided just to go ahead with the surgery which is actually scheduled for Jan. 16. Unfortunately, I now have tonsillitis, am on antibiodics and will likely have to pospone the surgery. I've been feeling better lately with regard to my GI symptoms and am finding myself agonizing over the decision of whether or not to go ahead with the surgery. I would really appreciate any feedback regarding this issue. Have any of you been diagnosed with the same thing? I belive I read something by Keriamone about this. Would love imput! BethEllen

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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 1/9/2007 2:34 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Beth,
Welcome back! :-) (Sorry you have to be here though.)
You're right, it was Keriamon who struggled with gallbladder issues. Hopefully she'll be back soon.
In my personal opinion, I would have the surgery. Yes, you are likely to have similar symptoms afterwards - BUT, you might get rid of some. I know that Keri usually only has D. And even that she controls with Welchol and calcium. You can, however, develop acid reflux... But then I think the D would stop. Either way, it might be better to have only 1 or 2 symptoms as opposed to several.
I hope others come along to share their experience. I can't really say much with conviction as I still have a healthy gallbladder.
Good luck!
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 1/9/2007 4:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I have, on occasion, actually counseled people to keep their gall bladders because their symptoms were infrequent and relatively mild. Mine, for five years, were neither. I suffered from severe pain, diarrhea, nausea, and just general crappy feeling off and on for months at a time. Sometimes I would be so nauseated that I couldn't bring myself to eat anything. I went from a size 14-16 to a size 10 in about 4 months because of my constant nausea. I had one unending gall bladder attack while living in Ireland that lasted three weeks solid: constant diarrhea and constant, unbearable pain. For me, having my hida scan finally show an abnormality was a relief. I went straight to a surgeon and got it out a week later.

It is quite probable that you will have diarrhea and/or acid reflux after the removal of your GB. You may continue to have nausea or feelings of fullness--or lack thereof (somedays I never feel full, no matter how much I eat)--although these, for me, are rare compared to the bad stomach feelings I had before. As Lil mentioned, I have medicine that I can take for the D, so I don't suffer from that very much. There was nothing that helped the D before I had my gall bladder removed and nothing that helped the pain and other symptoms.

So, while I'm not 100% fixed, I am better than I was. If you feel that you can live with the nausea, indigestion, pain, etc. then you're probably not bad-off enough to warrant going through surgery; you're likely to be the same afterwards as before. But, if you can't tolerate living like that anymore, then you are likely to be better for getting it out, because your symptoms should lessen.

I should point out that gall bladders don't repair themselves and usually get worse over time, so it's very likely that, even if you can tolerate your symptoms now, they will get worse to the point of unbearable later, which is why most doctors go ahead and take the gall bladder out.

Since you're likely to have to wait on your surgery for a little while longer, why not try a very low fat diet and see if that improves your symptoms any? I went on a low fat diet after I had my GB removed and it completely eliminated my D problem. Unfortunately, it made me terribly constipated, so I had to go off it--so no promises that the low-fat diet will help you any, but, you may buy yourself some time. Like I said, the gall bladder doesn't repair itself, so if you indulge in something fatty--like at the holidays--it will likely make you pay dealy for it, even though it may have been acting perfectly normal while you were on low fat. It will always be there, lurking, ready to punish you from any deviation in your diet. If the low-fat diet helps your symptoms, then it's up to you to decide if it's worth avoiding surgery to put up with the occasional gall bladder attack. If the diet doens't help your symptoms, then you're back to knowing that nothing short of surgery has any hope of relieving them, and deciding if you can live with them or if you will take your chances on getting the gall bladder out.

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Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 1/9/2007 5:30 PM (GMT -6)   

Taking the "wait-and-see" approach may be the ticket for you.  If you had gallstones it would be a slightly different story, as stones can move into your bile duct and then emergency surgery would be required.  With a low ejection fraction, it's not like you have to have it out yesterday; the likelihood of facing emergency cholecystectomy (the medical term for gallbladder removal) is low. 

I think Keri's advice is sound.  Since there's no rush for surgery, maybe try different approaches to see if you can minimize your symptoms without going under the knife.  Surgery has a LOT of risks on its own and if you can possibly avoid it I would try to!

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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 2/16/2007 4:10 PM (GMT -6)   
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Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 649
   Posted 2/16/2007 5:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Yet another experience to consider. My ejection fraction was 23% and the only thing amongst all the tests that even hinted at what might be wrong. I had to insist on surgery - at the very least as the last diagnostic tool. I had no stones or sludge, but my gb was so infected it was ready to rupture. Because the infection had gone on so long, I also developed scar tissue that obstructed several areas of small intestine. None of this showed up on CT scan, MRI, x-ray or ultrasound.

In short, reading your story, you sound like you have some time to make your final decision - particularly if your symptoms are a bit better - probably the antibiotics calmed down the gb infection a bit. However, I think eventually your gb is going to have to come out. Time will tell, and I hate to think of you suffering needlessly. You are right: it is so much easier when the docs just tell you what to do and have done with it. :-)
Living in the Republic of Texas minus a gallbladder, appendix, uterus, and 18" of colon; but living with my wonderful husband, 2 dogs, 1 cockatiel, and 2 gold fish. 

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