Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

The gallbladder is a small sac-like digestive organ on the right side of your upper abdomen. This organ stores bile. Bile is used in the digestion of foods, especially fats. Sometimes small stones called gallstones may form. The gallstones can cause a blockage of the ducts that carries bile from the gallbladder to the small intestine. If the duct remains blocked for a period of time, severe damage or infection can occur. When these stones cause symptoms surgery may be needed. Symptoms often include pain beneath the ribs and nausea that lasts several hours after eating a fatty meal. Even with the gallbladder removed, bile is still delivered to the small intestine through the ducts and digestion of food.

What is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

A laparoscopic (lap-er-uh-skop-ic) cholecystectomy is a type of surgery used to remove the gallbladder. A special device called a laparoscope is used. Small (about one inch) incisions are made to allow the insertion of the laparoscope and surgical instruments. Attached to the laparoscope is a special tiny TV camera. The surgeon removes the gallbladder by looking at a magnified view of the gallbladder and surrounding areas on a monitor.

What are the advantages of having this type of surgery?

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy usually allows you to recover faster, have less scarring and have less pain than traditional surgery. You also will have a shorter hospital stay or go home the same day as the surgery.

What are the risks?

Possible risks are bleeding and infection. Because the bile duct is close to the gallbladder, there is a risk (less than 1 percent) of an injury occurring to the bile duct that could require additional surgery.

Will I need any tests before surgery?

Your doctor will order blood tests and an ultrasound. You may need an additional procedure by a gastroenterologist if the stones are blocking some of the ducts draining the liver either before or after removal of the gallbladder.

How should I prepare for surgery?

The night before your surgery, do not eat or drink anything after midnight. Do not smoke, chew tobacco or gum the morning of your surgery. You will be contacted as to what time to arrive at the hospital on the day of surgery. Have someone drive you to and from the hospital. You will not be able to drive yourself home or take a bus or cab alone.

What should I expect after surgery?

Usually, you will be able to go home the same day. In some cases, you may need to stay overnight. You should be able to return to your normal activities and work within one to two weeks.