Gallbladder Removal Surgery – Cholecystectomy

What is Gallbladder Removal?

Cholecystectomy: Surgery involving removal of the gallbladder usually takes half an hour. It is performed laparoscopically (keyhole). The aim of the operation is to remove the gallbladder (which contains the stones). Special clips are placed to seal-off the connections of the gallbladder to the main system. These clips are also applied to the blood vessels that supply the gallbladder. Surgery to the gallbladder is very safe with very small incidence of complications. Please discuss them with your treating practitioner.

Cholangiogram

In addition, we would routinely undertake an operative cholangiogram. This is known as “IOC”. This is done by inserting and injecting a small contrast into the cystic duct. The cystic duct is connects the gallbladder to the main duct. It does not increase the length of operation by much. We favour this as it allows us to assess the patient’s plumbing system or anatomy. Additionally if there is a stone seen further down the main system, it allows for removal or temporary stenting to aid removal later.

After Gallbladder Surgery

Most patients stay in hospital for one or two days. Commonly patients will have some discomfort, often between the shoulder tips or blades and where the tiny keyhole cuts are. These discomforts will pass and the sooner patients start to move and walk, the quicker recovery will be. We encourage the patients to take deep breaths after surgery and move to re-expand the lungs and aid circulation.

As soon as patients are awake, we routinely permit food and fluid intake. In the weeks and months to come, there should not be any restriction to the intake of food or the type of food. As most patients recover, there is usually a temporary suppression of appetite for a couple of weeks.

We would routinely use self-dissolving sutures that would not need removal. These wounds require minimal care. Sometimes the wound at the belly button (where the camera sits and where the gallbladder is removed) can take a little longer to settle. The surrounding skin should not be “red, hot or painful”.

Life After Gallbladder Removal

Life without a gallbladder does not appear to be an issue in the long term. Bile is manufactured by the liver and stored by the gallbladder. The total amount of bile production per day remains the same. In absence of the gallbladder, bile is now stored in the ductal system which accommodates in the absence of a faulty gallbladder.

Occasionally despite removal of the gallbladder, some patients may have un-resolved symptoms. If this has not resolved in the next couple of weeks, this may indicate another problem unrelated to the gallbladder. Sometimes additional tests may be required afterwards.

gallbladder removal gallstones

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