October 4th, 2010
06:12 PM ET

Woman's gallbladder removed through birth canal

Surgeons at Ohio State University have removed a woman's gallbladder through her birth canal, becoming one of the first in the country to do this kind of groundbreaking surgery. The 42-year old woman was part of a clinical trial comparing laparascopic and transvaginal surgery. The surgery took less than 90 minutes and the patient was released within a few hours. Laparoscopic surgery is considered a minimally invasive procedure, unlike transvaginal surgery where an incision is made inside the vagina.

"In the past we would make about a six-inch cut into a patient's abdomen to remove their gallbladder. This was not only more painful, but took longer to heal and carried higher risk for infections," said Dr. Vimal Narula, the Ohio State surgeon who did the procedure. "Because we're working in the birth canal, which as good blood supply, things heal faster, leading to less overall pain and less post-operative discomfort."

Narula says there are fewer nerve endings in the vagina, which means less pain. No incision is made during the surgery; instead, surgeons made a tiny hole in the vaginal wall, then used small instruments to remove the gallbladder. Since 2006 Ohio State surgeons have done more than 120 surgeries using endoscopic cameras and remote controlled surgical tools. More procedures using natural openings like the mouth or vagina are being considered as surgeons look for ways to minimize trauma and infection.

soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. tootmonkey

    What is the point? Now if she gets an infection, it's gonna be in her hootchie. No thanks.

    October 5, 2010 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Libby

    They say "natural openings like the mouth or vagina" well what about "natural openings" in men? They've got one less "natural opening" than women!!

    October 5, 2010 at 10:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike saunders

      And are we not a you a brain child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      October 5, 2010 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  3. Elizabeth

    I find it humorous that either the physicians or CNN seem to be uncomfortable with the term "vagina." "Birth canal?" really? Just call a spade a spade. Vagina is not a dirty word- I was under the impression that the term "birth canal" was used only when, well, describing birth...

    October 5, 2010 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mary


      October 5, 2010 at 10:30 | Report abuse |
    • John

      If CNN ever does a story on rectal surgery, will they call it the "defecating canal"?

      October 5, 2010 at 11:34 | Report abuse |
    • Capt. NoDuh

      John, I asked CNN you question and they said they will refer to it as the hershey highway.

      October 5, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse |
    • Teresa

      I agree, my first thought was "Why is a physician afraid of the word vagina?"

      October 5, 2010 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • j holmes

      vj j if you will. so many uses, who would thought.

      October 5, 2010 at 21:48 | Report abuse |
    • youareanimbecile

      The birth canal is part of the vagina's anatomy. The canal in which a baby travels during birth. Yeah. I'm pretty sure doctors are not uncomfortable with medical terminology.

      October 5, 2010 at 23:24 | Report abuse |
    • Cbd Oils

      I could not stop myself from commenting. Just how many people do you really think could possibly believe in that sortof thing? I would like to read a lot more of these blog posts but I literally have no cell phone reception where I am right now. Just how did they create this set of skills? I only got about midway in to this article and I will take a look at the rest of the write up when I get home from work.


      December 18, 2018 at 08:45 | Report abuse |
  4. Shannon

    I had emergency gall bladder removal, and I did not have a 6 inch incision either. I had 4 very small ones. 2 of them were about 1/4 inch each, and two 3/4 inch ones, one in the belly button and the second just under the front of my rib cage. All of them healed quickly without issue. I was told however, that if there were complications, I was going to have a much larger incision as a result. Get the facts straight!! I hate it when writers use "scare tactics" and worst case options to justify something.

    October 5, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dubey76

      Mine was removed too, about 12 years ago. Four small incisions, healed pretty quick. Sure it still killed my stomach muscles for a little while, but the 6" incision is OLD school. And yes, "birth canal" is pretty funny. We can watch erectile dysfunction commercials, but we still can't see/hear the word "VAGINA". Whatever.

      October 5, 2010 at 10:39 | Report abuse |
    • gallbladder

      I just had mine removed in July and it was terrible they made a small incision in my belly button and 2 holes and a 2 inch incision. Then I ended up with internal bleeding.. They had to go back in and fix it, but I never had the 6" incision even with the complications, you are right gotta love the scare tactics used by CNN..

      October 5, 2010 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • katie

      "In the past we would make about a six-inch cut into a patient's abdomen to remove their gallbladder." They are referring to the traditional surgery, which did leave a 6 inch scar, not the laparoscopic surgery that you had.

      October 6, 2010 at 00:35 | Report abuse |
  5. BB22

    Elizabeth...Vagina and Birth Canal are 2 separate things. Birth canal ends with the vagina ... You were trying to call an axe a spade...:)

    October 5, 2010 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OB

      Birth canal and vagina are the same thing. CNN should've used vagina to describe the anatomy. It is more precise and more appropriate for the target audience.

      October 5, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • Capt. NoDuh

      Your mommy didn't show you any pictures when she home schooled you on sex? Best thing for you is to take an anatomy book. And if you are female you should use a mirror to see how many parts you can identify.

      October 5, 2010 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Ugh!

      The birth canal/vagina ends at the cervix. UGH!

      October 5, 2010 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • OB

      Ugh – the birth canal starts at the cervix and ends at the introitus. Have to remember the baby starts in the uterus, goes past the cervix, through the vagina, then out into the world.

      October 5, 2010 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • youareanimbecile

      Seriously. People should at least do a little research before attempting to bash someone that graduated from medical school.

      October 5, 2010 at 23:27 | Report abuse |
  6. Micky

    Nobody needs to see my private parts more than necessary, I had my gallbladder removed the "normal way" and it was not that bad.

    October 5, 2010 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Anna

      Hahaha! True enough. My mom had hers removed the normal way and she said there was nothing to it. A little sore for a couple of days, then she was fine and back to her routine. If it ain't broke don't fix it.

      October 5, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse |
  7. Anna

    "No incision is made during the surgery; instead, surgeons made a tiny hole in the vaginal wall, then used small instruments to remove the gallbladder."

    Wait a minute. So a hole isn't an incision? Sorry, but no matter how tiny that hole may be, if a doctor has to make it himself, it's an incision. And I agree with pretty much everyone here; vagina isn't a dirty word. You'd think a man wrote this article.

    October 5, 2010 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Capt. NoDuh

      I was wondering the same thing. The only thing I could conclude is they punctured the vaginal wall instead of making an incision. And that, makes little sense as a puncture wound takes longer to heal than an incision.

      October 5, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  8. John

    The writer, Saundra Young, is identified as a CNN senior medical producer. But she is definitely not a journalist, who checks facts and obtains opposing views on a topic. She quotes the doctor when he compares a vaginal entry vs the "six-inch incision" procedure. If you ask any general surgeon who trained since 1989 when laparoscopic gallbadder surgery started, they no longer use the 6-inch incision, with the only exception being if there is a complication with the laparoscopic approach. You would need the same 6-in incision if you had complications with a vaginal approach. So for some supposed "less pain" by going through the vagina, you also increase infection risk significantly since the vagina is basically a bacteria filled cavity. This is a terrible idea. Of course Saundra just quotes the one doctor who did the procedure and accepts everything is fine without checking any other sensible opinion.

    October 5, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vagina

      Actually, the vagina is quite good at maintaining it's bacterial flora at healthful level, unlike the flora that might be found on your skin elswhere. I would rather have an incision there than on my abdomen any day.

      October 6, 2010 at 00:04 | Report abuse |
  9. mike saunders

    Maybe they should remove their head out of their $@3 and just be doctors and surgens wonder what this cost us!

    October 5, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Joann

    I had my gall bladder out laparoscopically about 10 years ago. A little post operative pain but, frankly, I felt so lousy, they could have yanked it out through my nose and I would not have complained. I think this vaginal procedure is aimed more at the vanity angle resulting in no visible scarring. Honestly, though, I have 4 tiny incisions that are quite difficult to even see at this point.
    I recently went to a dermatologist to have a benign growth removed on my leg and this lady carried on about the scar and did I understand I'd have a *scar* and it might look like a *scar*....yadda yadda. Good gravy, the nearly invisible scar is way better than the angry bump that was there before. People need to get perspective.

    October 5, 2010 at 13:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Joe

    Some people will be in for a shock when they go to visit someone in the hospital for gall bladder surgery and ask to see the scar.

    October 5, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Dr. Seuss

    Great, traumatize one organ to remove another. I'll stick with a couple small incisions in my belly if necessary, thanks. Although I'm a man, baby. I don't have a vahena. Maybe they could take my prostate out through my ear?

    October 5, 2010 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Phil

    Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina. It's not a bad word CNN. There are dozens of words NOT to call it on a news site – but vagina isn't one of them.

    October 5, 2010 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Sabrina

    I find it hilarious that some of you have nothing better to do than cry about the word birth canal being used.

    October 5, 2010 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Peggy

    @Joann – You made me laugh out loud! Love it, and I agree.

    Also, the vagina is a loooonnnnggggg way from the gallbladder as opposed to a laproscopic incision right where it needs to be. Seems like there would be a lot of other organs that would need to be negotiated before the "instruments" found what they were looking for.

    October 5, 2010 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. bob in calif

    Incredible! Next I expect to hear that the prostate was removed through the rectum. Can I say that?

    October 5, 2010 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Rectum, he||, it damm near killed him!

      October 6, 2010 at 05:36 | Report abuse |
  17. Dr. Tom

    Good to see that the majority of folks think this approach is as foolish as I do. I've been trained to remove gall bladders the "old-fashioned" way as well as laparoscopically. In over 20 years of experience, patients have NEVER complained about the size or cosmetics of traditional laparoscopic incisions. There will always be someone trying to invent a better mouse-trap. I predict that NOTES as a surgical option will not be widely adopted by US surgeons and to me, looks like technology in search for an application. There may be enough stupid, vane people out there willing to be experimented upon to avoid a visible incision on their abdomen to allow these medical "pioneers" to get some experience. I'm all for minimally invasive surgery, but operating on an upper abdominal organ by punching holes through the vagina or by creating a perforation of the stomach? Now you've got the risk of the primary operative field PLUS a hole in the vagina or the stomach to worry about!! No thanks. Violates the cardinal rule of surgery: One operation per patient per day. Violate this at your own jeopardy.

    October 5, 2010 at 21:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Rhertz

    Big deal. People are pushing organs in and out of those things all the time.

    October 5, 2010 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr. Tom

      That's funny right there!

      October 5, 2010 at 21:51 | Report abuse |
  19. Dr. Tom

    oops, typo: vain, not vane. My bad...

    October 5, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sparticus

    I had my tonsils removed via my rectum.

    October 5, 2010 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Jennifer

    They should have used "vagina." Using the term "birth canal" made me think she had this procedure shortly after giving birth. I think it is only a "birth canal" if you are giving birth, otherwise it is a "vagina."

    October 6, 2010 at 03:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mike

    I agree with Jennifer. There is no "birth canal" except when a baby is passing through the vajina. And even then, it is a pretty sterile and dehumanizing term. America's hang-ups over s3x have no bounds. (You wouldn't even be able to read this message unless I wrote it in code, that's how absurd things have gotten.)

    October 6, 2010 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. bob in calif

    There is however a berth canal. It is a narrow stretch of water that connects two larger bodies, i.e., lakes, seas or oceans. It is used primarily to move ships or barges between the larger bodies. Ships can temporarily tie up along the canal at berths where they can take on fuel, food, water or a new crew.

    October 6, 2010 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Nora

    Not everything that can be done should be done. The surgeons claim there were no incisions, but he cut into the woman's vagina to make a hole through which her morcellated gall bladder was removed by puling each small piece cut out of her gall bladder through her vagina.

    Hysterectomies are being performed by morcellating the uterus and pulling the pieces of the uterus out through the navel, the belly button, piece by piece. The navel is closer to the the gall bladder than the vagina. Why did they cut into the vagina instead of the navel? Next we will be hearing about minimally invasive hysterectomy or gall bladder removal through the nostrils.

    How many women will they damage by making a hole in their vagina and pulling the gall bladder out through their vagina before common sense prevails. There is a short video that is important for every woman and man to watch, "Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs", at http://www.hersfoundation.org/anatomy.

    October 9, 2010 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Zoe

    Hole :DEFECT. Incision: SHARP CUT OR GASH.
    Attention Surgeons..What are you thinking! If vaginal cancer occurs, the pain alone could kill the woman!
    Surgeons..What is your motive to touch the vagina of anesthetized women? Respect her intricate nerves and circulation.
    The body is mysterious.Get educated by the link shown above.

    October 9, 2010 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Zoe

    The word is DEFECT. I did not post the face. Somehow CNN got it in there.

    October 9, 2010 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Eve

    Surgeon Narula says that the birth canal (vagina) has a good blood supply–which is true. Unless, of course, that blood supply has been compromised by, at the time of hysterectomy, the severing of uterine arteries that supply the vagina. Narula also notes that the vagina has fewer nerve endings...so, why do gyns often maintain that the vagina, and not the uterus, is primarily responsible for female orgasm? For more information on this topic, please go to the non profit site at

    October 10, 2010 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. wow

    Wow, who would think that talking about the vagina would bring in all sorts of comments.

    November 3, 2010 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. mary

    Gall bladder symptoms are often quite painful, and so it is therefore important to know what can be done to relieve the pain, even temporarily until you find a more long term solution. The first thing you should do is change your diet. You want to refrain from eating greasy fatty foods and instead include more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet.

    March 1, 2011 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
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