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Cholecystectomy

What is a cholecystectomy and why is it necessary?
Cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, which is located in the abdomen beneath the right side of the liver. Gallbladder problems are usually the result of gallstones. These stones may block the flow of bile from your gallbladder, causing the organ to swell. Despite the development of non-surgical techniques, it is the most common method for treating symptomatic gallstones. Other reasons for having this surgery done include cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct), gallbladder cancer and biliary dyskinesia (abnormal gallbladder function).

Each year more than 500,000 Americans have gallbladder surgery. Surgery options include the standard procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and an older more invasive procedure, called open cholecystectomy.

What are the different types of cholecystectomy surgeries?
There are two methods of cholecystectomy: open surgery and laparoscopic surgery. Open surgery is the traditional way to removing the gallblader whereas laparoscopic surgery is the latest and minimally invasive way of doing it.

Details of the procedure

What do I need to do before the surgery?
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for the procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?
A nurse will review your chart and confirm that all the paperwork is in order. You will be taken to a pre-operative nursing unit where the anesthesiologist will start an IV. You will then be taken to the operating room. After the appropriate form of anesthesia is administered, surgery will be performed.

What type of anesthesia will be used?
Gallbladder removal is performed under general anesthesia, which will keep you asleep during the surgery.

What happens during surgery, and how is it performed?
If your surgery is performed laparoscopically, your surgeon will make three to four small incisions and insert tube-like instruments through them. The abdomen will be filled with gas to help the surgeon view the abdominal cavity. A camera will be inserted through one of the tubes. The camera sends a magnified image from inside the body to a video monitor, giving the surgeon a close-up view of the organs and tissues. Other instruments will be placed through the additional tubes. The surgeon watches the monitor and performs the operation by manipulating the surgical instruments through separate small incisions. The gallbladder is identified and carefully separated from the liver and other structures.

Finally, the cystic duct and the cystic artery are clipped with tiny titanium clips and cut, then the gallbladder is removed through one of the small incisions. This type of surgery requires meticulous surgical skill, but in straightforward cases can be done in about an hour.

If performed with the open method, a larger incision about 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm) will be made in the abdomen through which the surgeon will remove the gallbladder.

How long will I be in the hospital?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy does not require the abdominal muscles to be cut, resulting in less pain, quicker healing, improved cosmetic results, and fewer complications such as infection. Most patients can be discharged on the same or following day as the surgery.

However, after an open surgery, patients usually remain in the hospital for about 3 to 7 days.

What are the risks/complications associated with gallbladder removal?
As with any surgery, there are risks such as bleeding, infection, or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Other risks include injury to the bile duct or the bowel. Your surgeon will inform you of the risks prior to surgery.

What should I watch out for?
Be sure to call your doctor if any of the following symptoms appear:
• Fever
• Worsening pain
• Redness or swelling around the incision
• The incision is warm to the touch
• Drainage from the incision

Will there be scar(s)?
If the procedure is performed laparoscopically the incisions should heal well, leaving small discrete scars. If the open method is used, a larger scar will be present.

When can I expect to return to work and/or resume normal activities?
Most patients can return to any type of occupation in about a week as there are no restrictions after laparoscopic gallbladder removal. You will be encouraged to return to normal activities such as showering, driving, walking up stairs, light lifting, and work as soon as you feel comfortable.

If you had an open surgery, you should not engage in heavy lifting or straining for six to eight weeks after the surgery.

Cost and availability

How much does it cost?
Click here for details.

Which countries/hospitals is it available in?
Click here to check the availability of cholecystectomy with our partner hospitals.

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Note: All information presented here has been obtained from publicly available medical resources and is here for reference purposes only. Healthbase does not claim to be a medical professional and does not provide any advice on any issues relating to medical treatment.

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