Cholecystectomy FAQs

What is a cholecystectomy?

A cholecystectomy is a surgical removal of the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver.

When is a cholecystectomy required?

A cholecystectomy is usually performed when the gallbladder is inflamed, blocked, diseased, cancerous or contains gallstones.

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are small deposits of crystallized bile that form in the gallbladder, a small sac that sits below the liver and is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen

Gallstones develop when there is too much cholesterol, causing the bile to harden into stones resulting in the gallbladder, ducts or liver becoming inflamed, blocked, infected or damaged. Left untreated, the condition could become fatal.

What is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that results in less scarring, less pain and a much speedier recovery for the patient than the previously performed open cholecystectomy. In a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, there are several small incisions made, instead of one large one, in order for the surgeon to removed the gallbladder.

What are the benefits of laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

This surgery usually permits the patient to return home the same day and facilitates much more rapid healing. Because laparoscopic surgery is a simpler procedure than open abdominal surgery, there is less risk of complications, such as the development of infection.

Are there complications from a laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

While laparoscopic removal of the gallbladder is a very safe procedure, as with all surgeries, possible complications may occur. Excessive bleeding, allergic reaction to anesthesia, post-surgical infection, deep vein thrombosis -- the development of a clot in the leg, injury to adjacent organs -- are all rare occurrences, but should be discussed with the physician before the operation.

In laparoscopic cholecystectomy, there are also risks of the following:

  • Injury to the bile duct or other adjacent organs
  • Bile leakage
  • Post cholecystectomy syndrome

Approximately one in seven patients continue to experience periods of abdominal or back pain, indigestion, diarrhea, and, in extreme cases, fever and jaundice. Post cholecystectomy syndrome is thought to result from bile leakage into the stomach or bile duct, or from a stone or stones remaining in the bile duct. Medications may help these problems and usually this condition resolves itself in a few months without further surgical intervention.

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