The Gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ partially attached to the undersurface of the liver. In conjunction with the liver, the gallbladder functions to pass bile into the small intestine and also serves as a bile reservoir, collecting and concentrating bile secretions from the liver. Surgeons remove the gallbladder from about 600,000 persons each year. Gallbladder removal is generally conducted by either general surgery or laparoscopically. In general surgery, a six-inch incision is made in the abdomen from which the gallbladder is removed. In laparoscopic surgery, the surgeon works via four hollow tubes that have been inserted into the abdominal cavity through four small incisions. The surgeon works with implements that have been inserted into the patient through the small tubes. The surgeon is able to monitor the removal of the gallbladder by viewing the procedure on a video monitor. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy has numerous advantages over general surgery. Because of these advantages most gallbladders are removed laparoscopically in the United States. Some of the more common problems and signs of medical negligence include: bile leaks that are not closed during surgery; retention of stones; hemorrhage of the hepatic artery; bile spillage; and injury to the common bile duct. The incidence of bile duct injuries is substantially higher in those surgeons with relatively little experience in laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedures.
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