by Dr. Steven Matzinger

Elective, required and emergency surgeries are performed at our hospital every day for many reasons. Two procedures that our surgeons perform more often than others are gallbladder surgery and hernia surgery. “Gallbladder surgery is quite common. It is often secondary to the formation of gallstones being a fairly standard issue among most Americans,” states Dr. Steven Matzinger, General Surgeon with Grand Strand Surgical Care.

The gallbladder is a small organ under the liver. It stores fluid called bile, which helps digest fat. Gallstones are the most typical cause of gallbladder disease. Surgery can be avoided sometimes by dietary changes such as a low-fat diet; however, if gallstones are responsible it is most likely that diet changes will not be effective, so surgery is recommended. The stones can block outflow of bile from the gallbladder, which could generate symptoms such as: upper right or center abdominal pain, nausea, back pain or pain in the right shoulder. Fever and chills can indicate infection which has the potential to complicate gallbladder attacks. “Gallstones form for a variety of reasons including diet, hormonal influences, family history and other reasons,” says Dr. Matzinger. Gallstones develop secondary to a chemical instability related to the substances within the bile. “This is why the gallbladder must be removed and not just the stones, because the stones would just reform in the bile,” expresses Dr. Matzinger. “People can live a healthy life without this organ.”

Hernia repair is another common surgical procedure. A hernia is a hole in the muscle fascial layer of the abdominal wall - this is the strength layer. People can be born with hernias, or hernias can form over time as a result of natural wear and tear. They can also form when the abdominal wall has been weakened by a previous surgery. “Hernias can cause pain mainly due to enlargement of the hole in the muscle. They can also allow organs from within the abdomen to come through the hole causing pain, bowel obstruction and sometimes life threatening strangulation,’ states Dr. Matzinger. If a patient has a hernia, limited lifting and straining is recommended until the hernia can be repaired in attempt to reduce risks of incarceration and strangulation.

Minimally invasive surgery for gallbladder removal and hernia repair is the standard of care. Surgeons are able to perform these delicate operations through a small incision using the minimally invasive approach. The benefits include less blood loss, less scarring and quicker recovery. Robotic assisted laparoscopic surgery is one form of minimally invasive surgery. “It is helpful during very precise operations and involves small incisions under exceptional 3D visualization of the operative field” Dr. Matzinger explains. This allows for better operations to be performed and enhanced recovery secondary to minimal trauma inflicted.

Surgical Care