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Assessment and Management of
Patients With Biliary Disorders
Review of Anatomy and Physiology
• Gallbladder
– Storage for bile
• Pancreas
– The exocrine pancreas
– The endocrine pancreas
• Insulin (beta)
• Glucagon (alpha)
• Somatostatin (delta)
Liver, Biliary System, and Pancreas
Copyright © 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
• Acute inflammation of the gallbladder
– Calculous (90%)
– Acalculous
• “Gallstones”
– Pigment stones
– Cholesterol stones (75% in USA)
• Risk factors
– “4 Fs”
– Obesity, female, frequent weight changes, estrogen
therapy, ileal disease, diabetes mellitus
– W>>M
Cholelithiasis: Manifestations
• May have no or minimal symptoms and may be acute or
• Epigastric distress: fullness, abdominal distention, vague
RUQ pain. Distress may occur after eating a fatty meal.
• Acute symptoms occur with obstruction and inflammation
or infection: fever, palpable abdominal mass, severe right
abdominal pain that radiates to the back or right shoulder,
nausea and vomiting
– Biliary colic: episodes of severe pain usually
associated with nausea and vomiting; they usually
occur several hours after a heavy meal
– Jaundice may develop due to blockage of the common
bile duct.
– Murphy’s sign
Cholelithiasis diagnostics
• Ultrasound
• Radionuclide imaging
• Cholecystography
• Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
– Nursing implications
• Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography
Medical Management of Cholelithiasis
• Cholecystectomy
• Laparoscopic cholecystectomy
• Dietary management
• Medications: ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)and
chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA)
• Nonsurgical removel
– By instrumentation
– Intracorporeal or extracorporeal lithotripsy
Nonsurgical Techniques for Removing
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Copyright © 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Cholesterol Gallstones and Pigment
Copyright © 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient
Undergoing Surgery for Gallbladder
Disease: Assessment
• Patient history
• Knowledge and teaching needs
• Respiratory status and risk factors for postop respiratory
• Nutritional status
• Monitor for potential bleeding.
• GI symptoms: after laparoscopic surgery, assess for loss
of appetite, vomiting, pain, distention, fever--potential
infection or disruption of GI tract.
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient
Undergoing Surgery for Gallbladder
Disease: Diagnosis
• Acute pain
• Impaired gas exchange
• Impaired skin integrity
• Imbalanced nutrition
• Deficient knowledge
Collaborative Problems/Potential
• Bleeding
• Gastrointestinal symptoms (may be related to biliary leak
or injury to bowel)
• Complications as related to surgery in general:
atelectasis, thrombophlebitis…
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient
Undergoing Surgery for Gallbladder
Disease: Planning
• Goals may include relief of pain, adequate ventilation,
intact skin, improved biliary drainage, optimal nutritional
intake, absence of complications, and understanding of
self-care routines.
Postoperative Care Interventions
• Low Fowler’s position
• May have NG tube
• NPO until bowel sounds return, then a soft, low-fat, highcarbohydrate diet postoperatively
• Care of biliary drainage system
• Administer analgesics as ordered and medicate to
promote/permit ambulation and activities, including deep
• Turn, and encourage coughing and deep breathing,
splinting to reduce pain.
• Ambulation
• Monitor for complications
Patient Teaching
• Medications
• Diet: at discharge, maintain a nutritious diet and avoid
excess fat. Fat restriction is usually lifted in 4-6 weeks.
• Instruct in wound care, dressing changes, care of T-tube
if present
• Activity as ordered by surgeon
• Instruct patient and family to report signs of
gastrointestinal complications, changes in color of stool
or urine, fever, unrelieved or increased pain, nausea,
vomiting, and redness/edema/signs of infection at
incision site.
• A severe disorder that can lead to death. Acute
pancreatitis does not usually lead to chronic pancreatitis.
• Acute pancreatitis: pancreatic duct becomes obstructed
and enzymes back up into the pancreatic duct, causing
autodigestion and inflammation of the pancreas
• Chronic pancreatitis: a progressive inflammatory disorder
with destruction of the pancreas. Cells are replaced by
fibrous tissue, and pressure within the pancreas increases.
Mechanical obstruction of the pancreatic and common bile
ducts and destruction of the secreting cells of the pancreas
• Common causes include alcoholism and gallstone
pancreaitis. Less common causes are sequelae of
infection, abdominal trauma, PUD, hyperlipidemia,
medications, postop, idiopathic
• Severe abdominal pain,
typically midepigastric
• Patient appears acutely ill.
• Recurrent attacks of severe
upper abdominal and back
pain accompanied by
• Abdominal guarding
• Weight loss
• Nausea and vomiting
• Steatorrhea
• Fever, jaundice, confusion,
and agitation may occur.
• May lead to acute
• Ecchymosis in the flank or
umbilical area may occur.
• Patient may develop
respiratory distress, hypoxia,
renal failure, hypovolemia,
and shock.
Pancreatitis - assessment and diagnostics
• History, risk factors, physical exam, diagnostic findings
• Labs
– Serum amylase and lipase
– WBC, Hgb/HCT
– Serum calcium and glucose
– Liver function tests
• Imaging
– Ultrasound, CT
• Prognosis
– Ranson criteria
Copyright © 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Pancreatitis - medical management
• Supportive care
– NPO, enteral or parenteral nutrition; NG suction; GI
prophylaxis’ antibiotics as needed
– Pain management
– Intensive care
– Pulmonary care
– Biliary drainage
– Surgical intervention
– Postacute management
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient With
Acute Pancreatitis: Assessment
• Focus on abdominal pain and discomfort.
• Fluid and electrolyte status
• Medications
• Alcohol use
• GI assessment and nutritional status
• Respiratory status
• Emotional and psychological status of patient and family;
anxiety and coping
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient With
Acute Pancreatitis: Diagnosis
• Acute pain
• Ineffective breathing pattern
• Imbalanced nutrition
• Impaired skin integrity
Collaborative Problems/Potential
• Fluid and electrolyte disturbances
• Necrosis of the pancreas
• Shock
• Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome
Nursing Process: Care of the Patient With
Acute Pancreatitis: Planning
• Major goals include relief of pain and discomfort,
improved respiratory function, improved nutritional
status, maintenance of skin integrity, and absence of
Relieving Pain and Discomfort
• Use of analgesics
• Nasogastric suction to relieve nausea and distention
• Frequent oral care
• Bed rest
• Measures to promote comfort and relieve anxiety
Other Interventions
• Improve nutritional status
• Improve skin integrity
• Monitoring for potential complications
• Education
– Diet
– Alcohol cessation
Chronic pancreatitis
• 70-80% due to excessive, prolonged consumption of
• Management focused on preventing and managing acute
attacks, pain relief, and managing exocrine and endocrine
– DM management, if it develops
– Dietary management
– Surgical management
• Pancreaticojejunostomy
• Pancreaticoduodenectomy (Whipple)
• Other
Multiple Sumps after Pancreatic Surgery
(Whipple’s Procedure)