Cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small organ below your liver. It is located on the upper right side of your abdomen.
The gallbladder stores digestive juice called bile and is made in the liver.
There are 2 types of gallbladder surgery:
- Open (traditional) method. In this method, one incision about 10-15 cm long is made on the upper right side of your abdomen. The surgeon finds the gallbladder and removes it through an incision.
- Laparoscopic method. This method uses 3 to 4 very small incisions. It uses a long, thin tube called a laparoscope. The tube has a small video camera and surgical tools. The tube, camera and tools are inserted through the cuts. The surgeon performs the operation while looking at the TV monitor. The gallbladder is removed through one of the incisions.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is less invasive. This means using very small incisions on your abdomen. There is less bleeding. Recovery time is usually shorter than in the open surgery. In some cases, a laparoscope can show that your gallbladder is very inflamed. Or it may show other issues such as the existence of scar tissue from previous operations, and then the surgeon may have to use an open surgical method to safely remove the gallbladder.
Cholecystectomy is done if your gallbladder:
- It has pieces of solid material (gallstones)
- If it is red or swollen (inflamed) or infected (cholecystitis)
- Malignantly altered
Gallbladder issues can cause pain that:
- It is usually located on the right side or in the middle of the upper abdomen
- It can be constant or worsen after a heavy meal
- Sometimes it can feel more like satiety than pain
- It can be felt in the back and on the top of the right shoulder blade
- Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and fever
What are the risks of cholecystectomy?
Cholecystectomy is usually performed under general anesthesia.
Open method of cholecystectomy:
An incision will be made. The incision may be performed below your ribs on the right side of your abdomen. Or it can be done in the upper part of the stomach. Your gallbladder has been removed. In some cases, one or more drains can be placed in the opening. This allows the drainage of fluid or pus.
About 3 or 4 small incisions will be made in your abdomen. Carbon dioxide will be put in your stomach so that it swells. This allows easy viewing of the gallbladder and nearby organs. The laparoscope will be inserted. Surgical tools will be passed through other incisions to remove the gallbladder. When the operation is over, the laparoscope and tools are removed. Carbon dioxide gas is released through the cuts.
Recovery varies depending on your procedure:
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. People can go home the same day, although they usually need to stay in the hospital for one night. Generally, you can expect to go home when you can eat and drink without pain and be able to walk without help. It takes about a week for complete recovery.
- Open cholecystectomy. Expect to spend two or three days in the hospital recovering. It can take four to six weeks for complete recovery.