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Michelle Giddings

Minimally invasive surgery quickly gets Decorah woman back to her busy life

Just a few weeks after having her third child, Michelle Giddings of Decorah, Iowa, started to experience what she describes as "horrible pains" in her abdomen, usually in the evening after eating. The pain was severe enough to send her to the emergency room on multiple occasions.

The cause was gallstones. Gallstones are deposits in the gallbladder, a small abdominal organ that stores digestive fluid. Gallstones are common—about 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women in the U.S. have gallstones or will develop them. But most people with gallstones don't even know they have them and will have no symptoms or problems.

When symptoms do occur, it's usually because the gallstone has become very large or has become lodged in the tube that carries bile from the gallbladder. This was the case with Michelle.

Michelle's primary care provider Janet Ryan, MD, Gundersen Decorah Clinic, referred Michelle to Gundersen general surgeon Michael LaBelle, MD.

For continuity of care close to home, Gundersen Decorah Clinic surgeons regularly perform surgery at Winneshiek Medical Center. In fact, Gundersen surgeon Scott Bierman, MD, FACS, had delivered Michelle's daughter, Cora, via C-section just weeks earlier at Winneshiek Medical Center.

Dr. LaBelle removed Michelle's gallbladder using minimally invasive surgical techniques through very small incisions. Because the incisions are small, there's less pain and blood loss, smaller scars and faster recovery.

"My recovery from gallbladder surgery was really quick. I had surgery on Wednesday and by the weekend I was moving around after three active kids. In just over three weeks I was back to doing all my usual activities—going to the gym, running, biking, everything," says Michelle.

She adds, "I had a really great experience. Everything went as planned. They were thorough, explained everything and there was good follow-up care. It was really nice to have the surgery locally."

In addition to Drs. LaBelle and Bierman, Decorah surgeon Phillip Yee, MD, also performs surgery at Winneshiek Medical Center. They also provide surgery at other Iowa regional hospitals including Palmer Lutheran Health Center in West Union, Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon and Regional Health Services in Cresco.

If you live in northeast Iowa and have been told you need surgery, you may be able to have surgery closer to home at one of these regional hospitals with a Gundersen surgeon. Talk with your primary care provider about a referral or call General Surgery at Gundersen Decorah Clinic at (563) 382-3140 or (800) 865-3140.

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