Gallbladder Surgery

How is the gallbladder removed?

The surgery to remove the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy (say “co-lee-sist-eck-toe-mee”). With traditional surgery, the gallbladder is removed through a 5- to 8-inch long incision (cut) in your abdomen. The cut is made just below your ribs on the right side and goes to just below your waist. This is called open cholecystectomy.
A newer way to remove the gallbladder is called laparoscopic (say “lap-are-oh-skop-ick”) cholecystectomy. With this surgery, a laparoscope (a small, thin tube with a scope on the tip of it that is used to see the inside of your body) is used to remove the gallbladder. Several small incisions are used rather than one large incision.

How is a laparoscope used to remove the gallbladder?

The laparoscope is put into your body through a tiny cut made just below your navel. Your doctor can then see your gallbladder on a TV screen and do the surgery with tools inserted in 3 other small cuts made in the right upper part of your abdomen. Your gallbladder is then taken out through one of the incisions.

What are the benefits of this type of surgery?

With laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you may return to work more quickly, have less pain after surgery, have a shorter hospital stay, and have a shorter recovery time. Unlike traditional surgery, laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder can be done without cutting the muscles of your abdomen. The incision is also much smaller.
With laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you probably will only have to stay in the hospital overnight. With open cholecystectomy, you would need to stay in the hospital for about 5 days. Because the incisions are smaller with laparoscopic cholecystectomy, there isn’t as much pain after this operation as after open cholecystectomy.

Who shouldn’t have this type of surgery?

If you had surgery around your gallbladder before, if you tend to bleed a lot, or if you have any problem that would make it hard for your doctor to see your gallbladder, an open surgery may be better for you. Your doctor will decide which type of surgery is appropriate for you.

What are the complications?

Complications are rare but may include bleeding, infection and injury to the duct (tube) that carries bile from your gallbladder to your stomach. Also, during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the intestines or major blood vessels may be injured when the instruments are inserted into the abdomen. Remember, all of these complications are rare.