GALLBLADDER REMOVAL SURGERY
What is GALLBLADDER REMOVAL SURGERY (CHOLECYSTECTOMY)?
WHAT IS THE GALLBLADDER?
Your gallbladder is a small organ in your upper abdomen. The abdomen is the area in the middle of your body that holds many organs, including the stomach and gallbladder.
WHAT DOES THE GALLBLADDER DO?
The gallbladder collects and stores bile that helps your body digest food. Small, hard materials called gallstones can form in the gallbladder. This is relatively common. If your gallstones cause discomfort, surgery may be the best course. For example, you might need surgery if your gallbladder is no longer working correctly and you have pain. Your doctor will talk with you about this.
Anatomy: gallbladder, liver, pancreas
In the past, doctors made a large cut (incision) in the belly to remove the gallbladder. This is called open surgery. Today, doctors can do this surgery with tiny instruments and just a few small cuts. This is called laparoscopic surgery, because the main instrument is called a laparoscope.
What Causes Gallbladder Problems?
Gallstones are often the cause. These small, hard deposits form in the gallbladder. They can also get into the bile duct, which connects the gallbladder with your intestines.
You are more likely to get gallstones if you:
You might also get gallstones if other people in your family had them. Doctors do not have a consistent way of preventing gallstones.
What are the symptoms of gallbladder problems?
Symptoms can include:
How do doctors find gallbladder problems?
Your doctor will probably order a test called an ultrasound. It shows the inside of the body using sound waves. You are awake during the test, and it does not hurt.
If you need more tests, you might have a CT scan or a test called a HIDA scan. The HIDA scan uses an injection of dye to show how well your gallbladder and bile duct is working.
How do doctors treat gallbladder problems?
Taking the gallbladder out is usually the best way to treat gallbladder problems. You might get some relief from changing your diet. For example, eating less fat can help. But gallstones rarely go away on their own.
You might have heard about treatments to break up gallstones or make them melt away (dissolve). Unfortunately, these have not been proven to work well.
What are the advantages of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery?
Is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal for You?
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal might be the right choice for you because it is the most common type of gallbladder surgery. It might not be an option if:
Ask your family doctor or other health care provider if this surgery is right for you. You should also talk with a surgeon who is trained and qualified to do laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. They can help you decide.
How Should I Prepare for Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
You will need a full physical examination. You might need some tests to make sure you are healthy enough for surgery.
The surgeon who will do your laparoscopic gallbladder removal will talk with you about the risks and benefits of surgery. Then you will sign a form saying you understand and agree to the operation. Your surgeon’s office will tell you what to do and avoid before surgery. The exact instructions depend on your surgeon, but here are some common things to do.
You will need someone to drive you home from surgery. You will also need someone to stay with you overnight. Ask your doctor or nurse how much help you might need.
How is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal Performed?
You will have general anesthesia for your laparoscopic gallbladder removal. This means you are asleep during surgery. When surgery is completed, the surgeon closes your incisions with tiny stitches, staples, surgical tape, or glue. These dissolve as you heal, so the doctor does not need to remove them later.
Once you are asleep, the surgeon makes an incision near your belly button and inserts a small device called a port. The port creates an opening that your surgeon can use to fill the abdomen with gas. This creates space to do the operation. Next, they insert a small camera through the port. The camera shows the surgery on a screen in the operating room. Once the surgeon can see clearly, they put in more ports to insert long, narrow instruments. Finally, they gently disconnect your gallbladder and take it out through one of the incisions. Most operations need 3 or 4 incisions, but some have more.
Incisions after laparoscopic surgery
Your surgeon might use a surgical robot to do your operation. It is done the same way as the description above. Your doctor guides the robot instead of guiding the instruments by hand. This is commonly referred to as robotic surgery.
You might have a specialized X-ray of your gallbladder and bile duct during surgery. This X-ray can find gallstones in the common bile duct. If you have gallstones, the surgeon might need to do additional procedures during the surgery. Or you might need another procedure to remove them later.
What could cause me to be unable to have this procedure?
A minority of people cannot have laparoscopic gallbladder removal. Open Surgery may be the best option for some patients. Open Surgery would be the best solution in the following cases:
You should not be concerned if your surgeon decides to switch to open surgery. They will switch if open surgery is the safest option for you. Your surgeon might not know this until after the laparoscopy starts. They will use their best judgment about the safest surgery option for you.
What are the Possible Complications of Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
You should be able to go back to normal activities within one week. Complications are problems that happen during medical care or after it. Most people who have laparoscopic gallbladder removal have few complications or none at all.
Complications of laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) do not happen often. They can include bleeding, infection in the surgery area, hernias, blood clots, and heart problems. A hernia is when a small amount of your gut (intestine) or other tissue bulges through the muscles that cover it.
You should also know that any surgery has the risk of hurting other body parts. This is not likely, but it is possible. Gallbladder surgery could hurt nearby areas such as the common bile duct, large intestine (colon), or small intestine. You might need a follow-up surgery if this happens. It is also possible that bile might leak into the abdomen after gallbladder surgery.
Complications from gallbladder surgery are extremely rare, if you have any concerns we would be happy to review possible complications in more detail.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AFTER GALLBLADDER REMOVAL SURGERY (CHOLECYSTECTOMY)?
You can probably go home the day you have your surgery, or you might stay in the hospital overnight. You need to be able to drink liquids before you go home.
WILL THERE BE PAIN?
You will feel some minor pain after surgery. Pain at the incision sites and in your abdomen is common. You might also have pain in your shoulders. This is from the air put into your abdomen during the operation. The shoulder pain should resolve in 24 to 48 hours. You can take over the counter pain medications to relieve pain unless your doctor tells you not to. Putting ice on your incisions can also help.
Your surgeon may temporarily prescribe stronger pain medication to help you with pain. Many people recover from surgery without taking any narcotic pain medicine, but some may need it for a few days. If you have questions about the potential pain after surgery, our team will be able to discuss solutions that will help.
You may feel nausious or even vomit after your surgery. Having surgery and anesthesia can make this happen. You should feel better in a day or two. Tell your doctor or nurse if you keep vomiting or feeling nauseated.
You should soon be able to get back to the activities of daily life. Walking daily is always beneficial. You should be able to go up and down stairs on the day of your surgery. The following day, you may take your bandages off, if you have them, and can take a shower. You should expect to feel a little better each day after going home.
If you do a physical job with heavy lifting, ask your doctor when you can go back to work. You can drive 24 hours after you had anesthesia if you are not taking narcotic pain medicines.
If you had an open surgery with a large incision, you need more time to recover. You will probably need to stay in the hospital for a few days after surgery. Expect to go back to full activities in 4 to 6 weeks. Our team can share more on what you can expect.
WHEN TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR AFTER SURGERY
You need to see your surgeon 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR AFTER LAPAROSCOPIC CHOLECYSTECTOMY
Be sure to call your surgeon or family doctor if you have any of the concersn listed below.
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