What is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal Surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)?
Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. Gallbladder removal surgery is usually performed with minimally invasive techniques and the medical name for this procedure is Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy or Laparoscopi
About the Gallbladder
WHAT IS THE GALLBLADDER?
- The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver.
- Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine.
- Removal of the gallbladder is not associated with any impairment of digestion in most people.
WHAT CAUSES GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS?
- Gallbladder problems are usually caused by the presence of gallstones which are usually small and hard, consisting primarily of cholesterol and bile salts that form in the gallbladder or in the bile duct.
- It is uncertain why some people form gallstones but risk factors include being female, prior pregnancy, age over 40 years and being overweight. Gallstones are also more common as you get older and some people may have a family history of gallstones.
- There is no known means to prevent gallstones.
- These stones may block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder, causing it to swell and resulting in sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, indigestion and, occasionally, fever.
- If the gallstone blocks the common bile duct, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) can occur.
HOW ARE GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS FOUND AND TREATED?
- Ultrasound is most commonly used to find gallstones.
- In a few more complex cases, other X-ray test such as a CT scan or a gallbladder nuclear medicine scan may be used to evaluate gallbladder disease.
- Gallstones do not go away on their own. Some can be temporarily managed by making dietary adjustments, such as reducing fat intake. This treatment has a low, short-term success rate. Symptoms will eventually continue unless the gallbladder is removed. Treatments to break up or dissolve gallstones are largely unsuccessful.
- Surgical removal of the gallbladder is the time-honored and safest treatment of gallbladder disease.
More Information About Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal Surgery (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF PERFORMING LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER REMOVAL?
- Rather than a five to seven inch incision, the operation requires only four small openings in the abdomen.
- Patients usually have minimal post-operative pain.
- Patients usually experience faster recovery than open gallbladder surgery patients.
- Most patients go home the same day of the surgery and enjoy a quicker return to normal activities.
ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER REMOVAL?
Although there are many advantages to laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), the procedure may not be appropriate for some patients who have severe complicated gallbladder disease or previous upper abdominal surgery. A thorough medical evaluation by your personal physician, in consultation with a surgeon trained in laparoscopy, can determine if laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) is an appropriate procedure for you.
WHAT PREPARATION IS REQUIRED FOR LAPAROSCOPIC GALLBLADDER REMOVAL?
- The following includes typical events that may occur prior to laparoscopic surgery; however, since each patient and surgeon is unique, what will actually occur may be different:
- Preoperative preparation includes blood work, medical evaluation, and an EKG depending on your age and medical condition.
- After your surgeon reviews with you the potential risks and benefits of the operation, you will need to provide written consent for surgery.
- It is recommended that you shower the night before or morning of the operation. Your surgeon may also want you to use an antibiotic soap.
- After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything. You may take medications that your surgeon has told you are permissible to take with a sip of water the
morning of surgery.
- Drugs such as blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) and Vitamin E may need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.
- Diet medication or St. John’s Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.
- Quit smoking and arrange for any help you may need at home.
- Do not shave your abdomen before surgery.
What to Expect After Surgery?
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER GALLBLADDER REMOVAL SURGERY (CHOLECYSTECTOMY)?
- Gallbladder removal is a major abdominal operation and a certain amount of postoperative pain occurs. Transient or temporary nausea and vomiting may occur as a side effect of both the surgery and the medications used for anesthesia. This tends to be limited to 1-2 days after surgery.
- Most patients who have a laparoscopic gallbladder removal go home from the hospital the day of surgery once liquids are tolerated. Some patients remain in the hospital overnight and go home the next morning.
- Activity is dependent on how the patient feels. Walking is encouraged and patients can go up and down stairs the day of surgery. Patients can remove the dressings and shower the day after the operation.
- Patients will probably be able to return to normal activities within a week’s time, including driving, light lifting and working.
- In general, recovery should be progressive, once the patient is at home.
- The onset of fever, yellow skin or eyes, worsening abdominal pain, distention, persistent nausea or vomiting, or drainage from the incision indicate that a complication or other problem has occurred. Your surgeon should be contacted in these instances.
- Most patients can return to work within seven days following the laparoscopic procedure depending on the nature of your job. Patients with administrative or desk jobs usually return in a few days while those involved in manual labor or heavy lifting may require a bit more time. Patients undergoing the open procedure usually resume normal activities in four to six weeks. Other aspects of recovery can be slower with an open operation.
- Make an appointment with your surgeon within 2-3 weeks following your operation.
- Numerous medical studies show that the complication rate for laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery is comparable to or even lower than the complication rate for open gallbladder removal surgery when performed by a properly trained surgeon. The overall rate of severe complications is low.
This information is intended to provide a general overview of a surgery. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for professional medical care or a discussion between you and your surgeon about the need for a surgery. Specific recommendations may vary among health care professionals. If you have a question about your need for a surgery, your alternatives, billing or insurance coverage, or your surgeons training and experience, do not hesitate to ask your surgeon or his/her office staff about it. If you have questions about the operation or subsequent follow up, discuss them with your surgeon before or after the operation.