Surgery: The Presidential Cholecystectomy

Lurking half-hidden behind the lower edge of the liver, the pear-shaped gall bladder serves as a storehouse for an essential substance—the thick, greenish bile (or gall) that the liver manufactures to aid in the long and complex process of digestion. In the young, the gall bladder usually stays healthy and does its job quietly and uncomplainingly. By the time a man reaches his middle forties, his gall bladder becomes increasingly subject to infection (cholecystitis) or filling up with gallstones (cholelithiasis), or both.

The "stones" range in size from a grain of sand...

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