What is Cholecystectomy?
A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder — a pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder collects and stores bile — a digestive fluid produced in your liver.
The purpose of cholecystectomy is to provide permanent relief to a person with gallstones and other problems associated with the gallbladder.
When is Cholecystectomy needed?
A cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile.
What should you know before undergoing Cholecystectomy?
Cholecystectomy isn’t for everyone. This procedure isn’t recommended in cases of:
- Generalised abdominal infection,
- Late stage of pregnancy,
- Serious bleeding disorders,
- Acute cholecystitis,
- Obstructive jaundice,
- Peritoneal adhesions
- Intraabdominal tumors.
What are the complications and side effects?
While you can expect some mild to moderate pain after surgery, it shouldn’t be severe. Certain pain-relieving medications taken after surgery can cause constipation. Your doctor may prescribe a stool softener or laxative to reduce straining.
A cholecystectomy carries a small risk of complications including:
- Bile leak
- Blood clots
- Heart problems
- Injury to nearby structures, such as the bile duct, liver and small intestine
Your risk of complications depends on your overall health and the reason for your cholecystectomy.
It is important you understand the precautions and know the possible complication and side effects before having this Cholecystectomy. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
How do I prepare for Cholecystectomy?
To prepare for a cholecystectomy, your surgeon may ask you to:
- Eat nothing the night before your surgery. You may drink a sip of water with your medications, but avoid eating and drinking at least four hours before your surgery.
- Stop taking certain medications and supplements. Tell your doctor about all the medications and supplements you take. Continue taking most medications as prescribed. Your doctor may ask you to stop taking certain medications and supplements because they may increase your risk of bleedin
Also, plan ahead for your recovery after surgery. For instance:
- Plan for a hospital stay. Most people go home the same day of their cholecystectomy, but complications can occur that require one or more nights in the hospital. If the surgeon needs to make a long incision in your abdomen to remove your gallbladder, you may need to stay in the hospital longer. It’s not always possible to know ahead of time what procedure will be used. Plan ahead in case you need to stay in the hospital by bringing personal items, such as your toothbrush, comfortable clothing, and books or magazines to pass the time.
- Find someone to drive you home and stay with you. Ask a friend or family member to drive you home and stay close the first night after surgery.
What happens during Cholecystectomy?
Cholecystectomy usually takes one or two hours.
A cholecystectomy is performed using general anesthesia, so you won’t be aware during the procedure. Anesthesia drugs are given through a vein in your arm. Once the drugs take effect, your health care team will insert a tube down your throat to help you breathe. Your surgeon then performs the cholecystectomy using either a laparoscopic or open procedure.
Minimally invasive (laparoscopic) cholecystectomy
During a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the surgeon makes four small incisions in your abdomen. A tube with a tiny video camera is inserted into your abdomen through one of the incisions. Your surgeon watches a video monitor in the operating room while using surgical tools inserted through the other incisions in your abdomen to remove your gallbladder.
Next you may undergo an imaging test, such as an X-ray or ultrasound, if your surgeon is concerned about possible gallstones or other problems in your bile duct. Then your incisions are sutured, and you’re taken to a recovery area.
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy isn’t appropriate for everyone. In some cases your surgeon may begin with a laparoscopic approach and find it necessary to make a larger incision because of scar tissue from previous operations or complications.
Traditional (open) cholecystectomy
During an open cholecystectomy your surgeon makes a 15-centimeter incision in your abdomen below your ribs on your right side. The muscle and tissue are pulled back to reveal your liver and gallbladder. Your surgeon then removes the gallbladder.
The incision is sutured, and you’re taken to a recovery area.
What happens after Cholecystectomy?
You’ll be taken to a recovery area as the anesthesia drugs wear off. Then you’ll be taken to a hospital room to continue recovery. Recovery varies depending on your procedure:
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. People are often able to go home the same day as their surgery, though sometimes a one-night stay in the hospital is needed. In general, you can expect to go home once you’re able to eat and drink without pain and are able to walk unaided. It takes about a week to fully recover.
- Open cholecystectomy. Expect to spend two or three days in the hospital recovering. Once at home, it may take four to six weeks to fully recover.
A cholecystectomy can relieve the pain and discomfort of gallstones. Conservative treatments, such as dietary modifications, usually can’t stop gallstones from recurring. A cholecystectomy is the only way to prevent gallstones.
Most people won’t experience digestive problems after a cholecystectomy. Your gallbladder isn’t essential to healthy digestion. Some people may experience occasional loose stool after the procedure, which generally resolves over time. Discuss with your doctor any changes in your bowel habits or new symptoms following your procedure.
How quickly you can return to normal activities after a cholecystectomy depends on which procedure your surgeon uses and your overall health. People undergoing a laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be able to go back to work in a matter of days. Those undergoing an open cholecystectomy may need a week or more to recover enough to return to work.
If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.
What should you do after Cholecystectomy?
Some ways you can prevent complications after surgery include the following:
- Walk around frequently to prevent blood clots.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Don’t lift more than 10 pounds for four to six weeks.
- Wash your hands before and after touching the area around your incision site.
- Change your bandages as directed.
Avoid wearing tight clothing that could rub against the incision.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: September 7, 2018 | Last Modified: September 7, 2018
Gallbladder removal. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gallbladder-removal/#what-happens-during-gallbladder-removal-surgery. Accessed June 19, 2018.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. https://www.medicinenet.com/cholecystectomy/article.htm#what_is_laparoscopic_cholecystectomy. Accessed June 19, 2018.
Cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/cholecystectomy/about/pac-20384818. Accessed June 19, 2018.
What Is Open Gallbladder Removal? https://www.healthline.com/health/gallbladder-removal-open. Accessed June 19, 2018.
BURKITT, H. George – QUICK, Clive R. G. Essential surgery: problems, diagnosis and management. 4. edition. Edinburgh ; New York : Churchill Livingstone, 2007. 793 pp. pp. 326-328. ISBN 9780443103469.