Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy)
A cholecystectomy is a laparoscopic surgical procedure to remove the gallbladder, which is a pear-shaped organ that sits in the upper right abdomen, directly below the liver.
The gallbladder assists during the digestive process by collecting and storing bile, which is a digestive fluid that is produced by the liver. Without the gallbladder, the same bile can be stored in the bile ducts that connect the liver and the biliary tree to the bowel.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Conditions
A cholecystectomy may be recommended if gallstones develop and cause pain or serious medical conditions such as a pancreatits, jaundice, or cholecystitis, which is a serious inflammation of the gallbladder. Gallstone symptoms in women and men may include upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and even chest pain.
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The cholecystectomy is usually performed laparoscopically through several small incisions in the abdomen. More serious cases may require an open procedure with a larger incision. You will remain under general anesthesia during the entire operation, which usually lasts less than an hour. In most cases, you are able to return home the day of your operation.
General Surgeon Michael Bergom, MD, FACS, discusses gallbladder surgery.
How would a patient know if there was an issue with their gallbladder?
Typical gallbladder disease presents as pain in the right side and the right upper abdomen. Usually, it's after eating a fatty or rich meal and can last for a couple of hours. Usually, a patient will come to me with that, and the diagnostic test is doing an ultrasound to identify gallstones. Sometimes we do an additional scan called the HIDA scan, which actually measures how well the gallbladder empties. If you have the classic symptoms of the pain and a positive imaging test, that's very indicative of the gallbladder causing problems.
Talk about the gallbladder surgical procedure.
Treatment for gallbladder disease or gallstones would be what we call laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Those use small incisions in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder using a camera, and it is removed through the belly button.
What can a patient expect after gallbladder surgery?
Gallbladder surgery is very satisfying because the results are pretty immediate. It's a day surgery. Patients go home, and their symptoms are gone. A very small percentage of patients have loose stool issues from gallbladder surgery, but usually that's self-limiting as your body adjusts to not having a gallbladder. Rarely do you need to have some medicine to treat that effect.