Gallbladder Removal Surgeries Were Safe in Kids

Gallstones in children on the rise due to obesity, researchers said

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) With obesity on the rise, doctors are seeing a rising number of children with gallstones who need a surgical fix. New research suggests these surgeries are safe.

A recent Mayo Clinic study reviewed the outcomes of children who had a their gallbladder removed. They found the procedure to be safe and effective.

"Talk to a pediatrician about your child's gallbladder health."

Michael Ishitani, MD, and colleagues reviewed how children fared when they had their gallbladder removed.

Gallstones, often caused by sickle cell disease, are sometimes treated by removing the gallbladder. Patients with sickle cell disease have misshapen red blood cells. Symptoms include pain, fatigue and delayed growth.

The gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile, a digestive aid produced in the liver.

Symptoms of gallstones, which are more common in adults than children, include stomach cramping, fever and yellow skin.

Dr. Ishitani said in a press statement that “rising rates of obesity in the pediatric population have led to an increase of gallstones found in children. It was important for us to review the current clinical practices to ensure that pediatric patients are being treated properly.”

There were no bile duct injuries — which can occur with gallbladder surgery — in the 202 children studied.

Complications after the surgery included four cases of wound infection, four cases of retained gallstones and one abdominal abscess (a pocket of infection in the stomach area). The average hospital stay after the surgery was one day.

The authors said the surgery was safe for children and had low complication rates. They noted the need for further research to see which patients gallbladder removal might help most.

The study was published in Surgical Laparoscopy Endoscopy & Percutaneous Techniques.

The authors disclosed no funding sources or conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
September 11, 2014
Last Updated:
September 12, 2014