Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in America. Nearly 370,000 are done every year. The surgery is called cholecystectomy. The gallbladder sits underneath the liver and is attached to the liver with thin membranes. It helps store the bile that the liver produces. After removal of the gallbladder, your body learns to live without it and produces bile when you need it 
The surgery is very safe and nationally the complication rate is less than 0.3%. The majority of these surgeries are performed using minimally invasive techniques as an outpatient and the patient goes home the same day.

What are Gallstones and can these cause other complications?

What are Gallstones? Gallstones form in the gallbladder due to changes in the balance of the cholesterol and bile acids. This maybe due to weight gain, pregnancy, aging, or losing a significant amount of weight too quickly as in after fat loss surgery. These gallstones sometimes can cause pain. Although up to 40% of the population may have gallstones, only a small percentage of them will experience symptoms such as pain from them.There is a system of tubes that connects the gallbladder, liver, and pancreas to your bowel (intestines). This system is a one-way road. If you have symptoms from the gallstones then it’s called symptomatic cholelithiasis. If the stone blocks the gallbladder from emptying, then the gallbladder can become inflamed and infected. This is called cholecystitis. If the stones pass from the gallbladder to the common tubes, this can cause inflammation and infection of everything behind. When the stone is in the common duct, it’s called choledocholithiasis. This can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) or pancreas (pancreatitis) or the common system (cholangitis). These can be life threatening and you may need emergency surgery.

When would you need gallbladder surgery?

The surgery performed to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy. The surgery is typically done for the following reasons:

  • Pain from the gallstones
  • Gallbladder infection
  • Gallstones causing hepatitis or pancreatitis.
  • Gallstones blocking the main ducts.

What are the risks of surgery?

The surgery is most commonly (98%) performed laparoscopically. This is a minimally invasive procedure that typically takes about an hour. The risks of surgery are as follows:

  • Infection at the incisions
  • Hernias at the incisions
  • Bleeding
  • Injury to the organs or common channels around the gallbladder
  • Risk of anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Bile leaks from the clips falling off.

The possibility of risks is very minimal and the healthier you are, the less risks there are. Sometimes a laparoscopic procedure needs to be converted to an open procedure where the surgeon makes a bigger incision. This is done if there is severe inflammation around the gallbladder that makes it hard to see the operative area using the laparoscope. Our conversion rate to open surgery is less than 1%.

What is the procedure?

Minimally invasive surgery is performed with very small incisions. First the anatomy of the gallbladder and surrounding structures is identified. The gallbladder is then removed with precision using laparoscopic or robotic instruments. The incisions are then closed.

Minimally Invasive Gallbladder Surgery
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Once you have had a conversation about surgery and had all of your questions answered, these are the main steps to follow for surgery:
  • Discuss all of your medications with the doctor at your visit.
  • Register for your surgery at the hospital
  • Do not eat anything for 8 hours before surgery.
  • You will be given an instruction sheet about medications that you can and cannot take before surgery. If you are allowed to take medications, you can take them at your regular time with a very small amount of water.
  • Make sure you arrive two hours before your surgery time.
  • Make sure you have someone to take you home after surgery.

The vast majority of the patients will have this surgery as an outpatient and will go home the same day. You will need to be on a light diet that is low in fat and cholesterol for about 2 days after surgery so that you can recover from the anesthesia. We recommend a diet low in fat and cholesterol always but try to follow this for about 4 weeks after surgery to help the recovery process. Typically, after recovery there are no dietary restrictions.

The pain from surgery will slowly subside over a few weeks and you will be able to return to your daily activities. Return to work and regular activities is dependent on each patient. For a full list of discharge instructions from this surgery please refer to our discharge instructions.

Contact us at 909-398-4895 to make an appointment to visit us and discuss your treatment plan.