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When gallbladder surgery leads to bile duct injuries

Bile duct injuries occur in an estimated 1 percent of gallbladder operations. These injuries are caused by trauma during surgery, and they often lead to scarring and a narrowing of the bile duct, which is known as a bile duct stricture. Anyone in New Jersey who has undergone gallbladder surgery will want to be aware of the symptoms of such an injury and what can be done if he or she develops an issue.

Bile duct strictures prevent the bile from draining into the intestine, resulting in the leakage of bile out of the liver and into the bloodstream. This in turn causes obstructive jaundice. In 20 percent of bile duct injury cases, patients also suffer an injury to the hepatic artery, which is the blood vessel that leads to the liver.

Along with jaundice, the symptoms of a bile duct injury include fever, nausea, vomiting and continual pain and discomfort. Symptoms can appear soon after surgery or weeks and months afterward. Immediate symptoms are associated with bile leakage into the abdominal cavity while delayed symptoms are associated more with the stricture.

Normally, patients recover quickly from gallbladder surgery, so it’s important for physicians to examine those who do not. Individuals who are already experiencing symptoms should seek an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of bile duct injuries.

Surgeons may be held responsible for any trauma they inflict during gallbladder surgery. Victims who are considering filing a medical malpractice claim will want to consult with a lawyer first. An attorney can assess the claim, establish that there was a preexisting doctor-patient relationship and show that the surgeon was indeed negligent. This could require the lawyer to request an inquiry with the local medical board. While victims focus on their recovery, the lawyer can negotiate a reasonable settlement covering all past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost income.