(Gallbladder Removal, Open Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)
A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, an organ located just under the liver on the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile, a substance produced by the liver and used to break down fat for digestion.
The gallbladder may be removed in one of two ways:
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is considered less invasive and generally requires a shorter recovery time than an open cholecystectomy. Occasionally, the gallbladder may appear severely diseased on laparoscopic examination or other complications may be apparent, and the surgeon may have to perform an open surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder safely.
A cholecystectomy may be performed if the gallbladder contains gallstones (cholelithiasis), is inflamed or infected (cholecystitis), or is cancerous.
Gallbladder inflammation or infection may cause pain which may be described as follows:
Other symptoms of gallbladder inflammation or infection include, but are not limited to, nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.
The symptoms of gallbladder problems may resemble other medical conditions or problems. In addition, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a cholecystectomy.
As with any surgical procedure, complications may occur. Some possible complications of cholecystectomy may include, but are not limited to, the following:
During laparoscopic cholecystectomy, insertion of the instruments into the abdomen may injure the intestines or blood vessels.
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.
A cholecystectomy may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.
A cholecystectomy is generally performed while you are asleep under general anesthesia.
Generally, a cholecystectomy follows this process:
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of procedure performed and the type of anesthesia that is given. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room. As a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure may be performed on an outpatient basis, you may be discharged home from the recovery room.
You may receive pain medication as needed, either by a nurse or by administering it yourself through a device connected to your intravenous line.
You may have a thin plastic tube inserted through your nose into your stomach to remove air that you swallow. The tube will be removed when your bowels resume normal function. You will not be able to eat or drink until the tube is removed.
You may have one or more drains in the incision if an open procedure was done. The drains will be removed in a day or so. You might be discharged with the drain still in your abdomen covered with a dressing. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking care of it.
You will be encouraged to get out of bed within a few hours after a laparoscopic procedure or by the next day after an open procedure.
Depending on your situation, you may be given liquids to drink a few hours after surgery. Your diet may be gradually advanced to more solid foods as tolerated.
Arrangements will be made for a follow-up visit with your doctor, usually two to three weeks after the procedure.
Once you are home, it is important to keep the incision clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches or surgical staples are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and generally will fall off within a few days.
The incision and the abdominal muscles may ache, especially after long periods of standing. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your doctor. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
Walking and limited movement are generally encouraged, but strenuous activity should be avoided. Your doctor will instruct you about when you can return to work and resume normal activities.
Notify your doctor to report any of the following:
Following a cholecystectomy, your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions, depending on your particular situation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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