The term cholecystectomy refers to the removal of the gallbladder, which is a hollow structure that is located under the liver. The purpose of the gallbladder, which is part of the biliary tract, is to store bile when it is not being used for digestion. Bile helps break up fats and remove waste products from the liver. When the gallbladder is removed, bile will go into the intestines where it can still mix with the food and provide the needed functionality.
Overview of the Procedure
Cholecystectomy is a relatively common procedure, and it can be performed through several different methods, with the most common being laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The surgery has a high success rate, but around 10% of patients will continue to have symptoms of a problematic gallbladder.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy requires small incisions to be made on the abdomen, so operating ports can be utilized. These ports allow for the surgical tools, including the laparoscope, to be inserted into the abdominal cavity. This ensures that the surgeon has a view of the organs and the tissues, as well as the gallbladder, so it can be safely removed. The majority of the cholecystectomy procedures done today utilize this method.
If there are problems with the laparoscopic procedure, a surgeon may need to shift to an open cholecystectomy. This requires a surgical incision below the right portion of the rib cage. Open laparoscopy can be used in other cases, as well, such as when the patient has severe cholecystitis.
What Leads to Someone Requiring a Cholecystectomy?
Why might a patient require a cholecystectomy? There are several reasons that the patient could require this procedure including:
- Inflammation of the gallbladder
- Gallstones in the gallbladder
- Gallstones in the bile duct
- Inflammation of the pancreas because of gallstones
- Large polyps on the gallbladder
How Serious is Gallbladder Removal Surgery?
As with any type of surgery, there is some risk with a cholecystectomy. However, because this is a common procedure, the risks tend to be quite low. Still, it’s a good idea to understand the risks that are involved. There could be infections, internal bleeding, injury to the bile duct, injury to the small intestine, anesthesia risks, or bile leaking into the abdominal cavity.
What Does the Cholecystectomy Recovery Process Look Like?
The recovery process for cholecystectomy will vary based on the type of procedure done. Those who have laparoscopic surgery will often be able to leave the hospital on the same day as the surgery. In some cases, the doctor may require that they spend the night. It will take around two weeks to get back to normal activities after undergoing this type of procedure.
For those who have had an open cholecystectomy, the recovery process will take longer. Patients will typically stay in the hospital for three to five days, and the recovery time to return to normal activities will be between six and eight weeks.
It’s always a good idea to have a friend or family member stay with the patient for at least the first 24 hours after surgery in the event there is a problem. Talk with the doctor to learn more about the procedure and what to expect.