Gallbladder removal surgery, or cholecystectomy, is a procedure in which the gallbladder is removed. The procedure is necessary when gallstones block the flow of bile. Cholecystectomies are fairly common procedures, with few risks of complications, and patients can usually go home the same day as their outpatient surgery.
The gallbladder is an organ that’s shaped like a pear, and it is located below the liver in the right side of the abdomen. The gallbladder’s purpose is to collect and store bile, which is a digestive fluid that is made in the liver. When gallstones block bile flow, removal surgery will be performed on the gallbladder.
At La Peer Health Systems, our general and colorectal surgeons perform cholecystectomies. Our surgeons are highly experienced and received training at some of the country’s finest medical programs. If you are in need of gallbladder removal surgery, then contact us at 855.360.9119 to schedule a consultation.
Gallstones are collections of material deposits that form in the gallbladder. They are most likely composed of cholesterol, but bilirubin and other small materials might also develop as stones.
A lot of people don’t experience symptoms when they have gallstones. Most of the time, people experience symptoms if the gallstones are blocking a bile duct. The most common symptoms of gallstones include: nausea/vomiting, fever, clay colored stools, yellowing of the skin, and abdominal pain.
Acute gallstones are treated through the removal of the gallbladder. It is recommended you have a cholecystectomy if gallstones form in either the gallbladder (cholelithiasis) or the bile duct (choledocholithiasis). Doctors will also recommend gallbladder removal if inflammation occurs to the gallbladder (cholecystitis) or the pancreas (pancreatitis).
TYPES OF CHOLECYSTECTOMY
The gallbladder removal surgery can be performed one of two ways:
- Open surgery
- Laparoscopic surgery
An open cholecystectomy utilizes a relatively large open incision to remove the gallbladder. Laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive and performed through much smaller incisions. Laparoscopic gallbladder removals offer reduced risk of infection, quicker healing times, less scarring after surgery, and are just as or more effective than their open surgery counterparts. As a result, most gallbladder removal surgeries (as well as the procedures done at La Peer) are performed laparoscopically. However, if a patient’s unique situation were not right for laparoscopic surgery, then an open cholecystectomy will be performed.
MINIMALLY INVASIVE (LAPAROSCOPIC) CHOLECYSTECTOMY
Gallbladder surgery is performed under general anesthesia, which means that patients are asleep during the procedure. Therefore, to prepare for cholecystectomy, your surgeon may ask you to do the following:
- Drink a prescription solution to flush stool out of your intestines.
- Other than a sip of water with your medications, eat nothing the night before your surgery or at least six hours before surgery.
- Stop taking certain medications and supplements. Your doctor will specify which medications you are allowed or not allowed to take.
- Shower using a special, antibacterial soap given to you by your doctor.
- Prep for a possible hospital stay in case of possible complications. Most people go home the same day of surgery, but just in case, you should bring some personal items (i.e. toothbrush, clothing, and books or magazines) to help you pass the time.
- Arrange for a close friend or member of the family to drive you home or stay close by for the first night after your surgery.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy involves four small incisions through which a tiny video camera and special surgical tools are inserted. The video camera (laparoscope) connects to a video monitor in the operating room that the surgeon uses to see inside the abdomen. The surgical tools are inserted into the other incisions to perform the actual gallbladder removal surgery.
After the gallbladder is removed, your doctor will want to perform a type of X-ray, known as a cholangiography, to screen for abnormalities in the bile duct. If gallstones or any other problems are found in the bile duct, your surgeon will address them as well.
Finally, the small incisions are sutured up and you, the patient, are taken to a recovery room. All told, laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery lasts about one or two hours.
AFTER THE OUTPATIENT PROCEDURE & RECOVERY
Most patients are allowed to go home after their same day surgery, though occasionally a one-night hospital stay might be required if complications or other issues were to arise. The general rule is that patients can go home once they are able to eat and drink without pain in addition to walking without help.
Some patients will have mild diarrhea after surgery that should go away with time, though most people will experience no digestive problems. Luckily, the gallbladder is not necessary for healthy digestion.
The recovery time from gallbladder removal depends on which of the two cholecystectomy procedures your doctor performs. A full recovery from the laparoscopic procedure is usually a few days to a week, though some exceptions do apply. People who underwent an open gallbladder surgery will need at least a week, and possibly more, to recover enough to return to work. Your doctor will let you know after performing your surgery and follow-up care.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED SURGEON
If you have experienced any of the conditions or symptoms mentioned, please call the Department of General and Colorectal Surgery at La Peer Health Systems at 855-360-9119, email us, or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment.
Next, read about Hemorrhoidectomy.