Gallstones

California Pediatric Surgical Group

General Surgery & Pediatric Surgery located in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, & Thousand Oaks, CA

California Pediatric Surgical Group specializes in laparoscopic surgery to remove gallstones in infants and children. At their locations in Santa Maria, Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara, and two Ventura, California, offices, the board-certified surgeons use the latest minimally invasive techniques to safely remove gallstones and reduce your child’s risk for recurrent stones and bile duct blockages. If you need a surgical consultation for pediatric gallstones, schedule an appointment at the California Pediatric Surgical Group office nearest you by calling the office or requesting an appointment online today.

Gallstones Q&A

What are gallstones?

The gallbladder is an organ that sits under the liver and is responsible for storing bile that’s produced by the liver. The gallbladder releases bile to assist in the breakdown of food during the digestion process.

Stones can form in the gallbladder when cholesterol builds up in the organ or due to a high concentration of bilirubin, a substance the body forms during the processing of red blood cells.

While less common in children than adults, gallstones can develop in children who receive intravenous nutrition or those who have sickle cell anemia. In some cases, stones create a blockage in the bile duct between the gallbladder and small intestine, which causes additional health problems.

What are the symptoms of gallstones?

Children with gallstones may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, or nausea, especially after eating fatty foods. If the gallstone becomes lodged in the bile duct, your child may experience increased pain and develop jaundice, a yellowing of the skin. 

Blockages can also cause:

  • Pale stool
  • Dark brown urine
  • Inflammation of the pancreas

Pancreatic inflammation and gallbladder infections can result in high fevers and need immediate treatment to prevent the spread of infections.

How are gallstones diagnosed?

If your child has symptoms of gallstones, their pediatrician will perform a physical exam and blood work to check for signs of infection. They may also use ultrasound technology to identify the number and location of gallstones.

Once gallstones are confirmed, your child’s pediatrician can refer you to California Pediatric Surgical Group to determine if surgery is necessary to remove gallstones.

What happens during gallstone surgery?

Initially, your child may benefit from medication to dissolve gallstones without surgery. However, there is a risk the stones will return.

For children with large gallstones that cause pain or for those with bile duct blockages, the California Pediatric Surgical Group team may recommend surgery to remove gallstones. The procedure usually involves laparoscopic technology that requires only small incisions.

Your child’s surgeon inserts a laparoscope, a slender surgical instrument with an attached camera, into the incision. The camera sends video images of the gallbladder to an external monitor that gives your surgeon a close-up look at the gallstones for easier removal. The team also uses minimally invasive techniques to clear stones from the bile duct.

After surgery is complete, your California Pediatric Surgical Group surgeon provides after-care instructions to prevent infection in the incision and ensure your child heals properly.

If your child needs surgery to remove gallstones, schedule a consultation at the California Pediatric Surgical Group office nearest you by phone or by using the online booking system.

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