What is a gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that lies on the right side below the liver. It stores bile, a digestive fluid produced in the liver, and empties it into the digestive tract to aid in digestion. Hard deposits can form inside the gallbladder (gallstones) and blockage the flow of bile, leading to extreme pain and discomfort. This condition can be treated through gallbladder surgery.
What is gallbladder surgery?
Cholecystectomy is commonly called gallbladder surgery and involves the removal of the gallbladder.
What are the indications for gallbladder surgery?
Conditions that require gallbladder surgery include, biliary colic (pain from blockage of bile in the gallbladder, cholecystitis (gallbladder inflammation or infection), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) secondary to gallstones, gallbladder cancer, and chronic acalculous gallbladder disease (aninflammatory disease).
How is a gallbladder surgery performed?
Cholecystectomy may be performed using open surgical technique or through a minimally invasive procedure.
Open or traditional surgery: This procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgeon makes a single incision in your abdomen. Surgical instruments are inserted through this incision, muscles and tissues are pulled apart to expose the liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder is then removed. The incision is sutured and you may need to be in the hospital for 2 days, after which you will be able to go home.
Laparoscopic surgery or keyhole surgery: In this procedure, the surgeon makes several small incisions in your abdomen. Through one of the incisions a laparoscope, a small fiber-optic tube with a tiny camera, is inserted into the abdomen. Special surgical instruments are inserted through the other incisions to remove the gallbladder. Through this approach, your surgeon will be able to view the surgical site on a large screen.
During this procedure, cholangiography (X-ray of the bile duct) may be taken to inspect the bile duct for any abnormalities. If your surgeon finds stones in the bile duct, they can also be removed either during surgery or after.
What can you expect after a gallbladder surgery?
Post-surgery, a medical device called an incentive spirometer is used for breathing and to keep the lungs working. Medications will be prescribed to control pain. Common post-operative guidelines following gallbladder surgery include the following:
- Eat a normal light diet
- Return to light work in 1-3 weeks
- Avoid strenuous activities for several weeks
Are there any complications of a gallbladder surgery?
The most common complication associated with the cholecystectomy surgery is bile duct injury, causing leakage of bile secretions, and in turn pain and infection. Other complications may include, but are not limited to:
- Excessive bleeding
- Damage to organs
- Abnormal reaction to anesthesia
- Development of blood clots
- Complications of general anesthesia, which may include allergic reaction and death
Gallbladder removal does not cause nutritional deficiencies and does not require any special diet after the surgery.
What are the advantages of a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery over open surgery?
Laparoscopic surgery requires minimal recovery time, shorter hospital stay, and less pain and discomfort after surgery.
Open usually surgery requires more time to operate, longer hospital stay and recovery time, and leaves behind a large scar.
Patient Education Resources
- Learn More from our Patient Education Resources