Gallbladder Surgery – Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
What is Gallbladder surgery?
Surgery to remove the gallbladder is known as a cholecystectomy. This is a common procedure that is most commonly used to treat gallstones or recurrent gallbladder infection (cholecystitis).
This surgery is relatively safe, and is usually performed using minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. That allows most patients to return home the same day or the next day. When this is done via laparoscopy (using several small incisions and specialised keyhole instruments) it is known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
Why might a laparoscopic cholecystectomy be recommended?
Gallbladder removal may be recommended where:
- Gallstones are causing significant abdominal pain
- The bile duct is being blocked by gallstones (choledocholithiasis)
- There is gallbladder inflammation or infection (cholecystitis)
- Gallstones cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
What are the main risks of laparoscopic cholecystectomy?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive way of removing the gallbladder. It is therefore a relatively low-risk procedure.
Potential complications include:
- Risks of a general anaesthesia
- Injury to other structures, including the bile duct, intestines, or liver
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
There is also a very small chance that the surgeon will need to convert from a laparoscopic, or minimally invasive procedure, to an open procedure (done via a larger incision).
Generally, the risk of complications varies with overall health. The healthier you are, the lower the risks.
If you’re scheduled for surgery, you should take a few steps to prepare.
- Fast for at least eight hours. You should avoid all food and drink in the hours leading up to the surgery, starting the night before.
- Ask your doctor about any medications. You may need to stop taking certain medications and continue taking others.
- Arrange transportation. Make sure you have a reliable way to get to and from the surgery.
- Be prepared in case a laparoscopic surgery turns into an open surgery and you have to stay an extra day in the hospital.
What happens after surgery?
After the procedure, you should experience relief from the pain you were having preoperatively. Usually you won’t have trouble digesting food, because the gallbladder isn’t essential for healthy digestion.