Illinois surgeons have reported good results using a green fluorescent dye when removing gallbladders. They say the non-radioactive dye helps them to more safely perform robotic gallbladder surgery.
A team from the University of Illinois (UI) Hospital & Health Science System used a near-infrared light to light up the dye and better visualize the biliary tract, according to ScienceDaily. The results of their study, which analyzed 184 robotic gallbladder surgeries completed at UI Hospital between July of 2011 and February of 2013, appeared in the journal Surgical Innovation.
The function of the pear-shaped gallbladder is to store bile the liver manufacturers to digest fat. The organ sits under the liver and releases bile through the common bile duct as the stomach and the small bowel digest food. This duct connects the liver and the gallbladder to the small intestine.
The most likely reason for gallbladder problems is blockage, typically by one or more gallstones, of bile that needs to flow through bile ducts, says MedlinePlus. Cancer of the gallbladder occurs but is rare.
In order to solve many gallbladder issues, surgeons remove the organ in a procedure known as a cholecystectomy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the traditional ways of performing the surgery are the open method, which requires a two- to three-inch abdominal incision, and the laparoscopic method, which creates three to four small incisions using a laparoscope to visualize the inside of the abdomen. Increasingly, surgeons are performing cholecystectomies robotically to achieve improved ergonomics, placement of instruments, and visualization.
Complications with gallbladder removal are rare. Some of the most serious can occur after bile duct injury, which fortunately occurs in just 0.3 percent of almost 600,000 U.S. cholecystectomies performed every year.
Among the 184 UI robotic surgeries, 72 were cholecystectomies performed with a single incision. The remaining 112 were multi-site laparoscopic procedures. Surgeons reported that in 99 percent of the cases, fluorescence let them visualize at least one biliary structure. They were able to see the cystic duct in 98 percent of patients, the common hepatic duct in 94 percent, and the common bile duct in 96 percent.
The ability to visualize these structures allowed the surgeons to pinpoint anatomical variations. In four surgeries, they were able to see gallstones impacted in the cystic duct. None of the gallbladder surgeries resulted in any major reported complications, such as an allergic reaction to the fluorescent dye or a biliary injury.
Vonda J. Sines has published thousands of print and online health and medical articles. She specializes in diseases and other conditions that affect the quality of life.