Cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal surgery is a medical procedure to remove the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ which is located below the liver on the right top-side of the abdomen and is responsible for storing bile – a fluid produced by the liver for effective digestion.
A cholecystectomy is a very common surgical procedure with minimum complications and shorter hospital stay – generally, patients can go home the same day. Depending on the condition of the patient and medical history, the surgeon may recommend one of the two methods of gallbladder removal surgery.
- Lap Cholecystectomy: It is also called laparoscopic cholecystectomy.This is a minimally-invasive surgery in which the surgeon makes four small incisions in the abdomen to insert a flexible, thin tube mounted with a tiny, video camera through one incision. Once placed, the surgeon then inserts the required surgical tools through other incisions to remove the gallbladder. The surgical tools are guided to the exact position of the gallbladder through images on the monitor. In case, the patient shows symptoms of stones in the bile duct or any other problems, the surgeon may perform an X-ray or ultrasound to get a clear picture and take further steps. When satisfied with test results, the surgeon sutures the incisions and the patient is transferred to a recovery room. The procedure is approximately one to two hour long and is extremely safe and minimally-invasive. However, it is not the ultimate choice for all patients because depending on the severity of the case, a procedure might begin as laparoscopy but can shift to open surgery because of complications of previous operations.
- Open Cholecystectomy: This is an invasive surgical procedure in which the surgeon makes a 6-inch deep incision in the abdomen, below the ribs on the ride side. Once the incision is made, the surgeon sets aside the muscles and tissues to reach the liver and ultimately the gallbladder to remove it. When the gallbladder is removed, the doctor sutures the incision and the patient is transferred to a recovery room. The procedure lasts for one or two hours.
Reasons for a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy can be performed to treat any of the below conditions:
- Gallstones in gallbladder
- Gallstones in the bile duct
- Inflammation in gallbladder
- Large polyps in gallbladder
- Inflammation of pancreas due to gallstones
Risks of a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Since laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a very safe and minimally invasive procedure yet it can have certain complications. But these are very rare:
- Leakage of bile
- Incision Bleeding
- Risks related to anaesthesia
- Injury to surrounding organs including the liver, small intestine, etc.
Moreover, a person might experience certain digestive problems after the removal of the gallbladder. These complications include:
- Difficulty in digesting fat
The risks of laparoscopiccholecystectomy vary case-to-case and depend on the overall health and reason for the surgery. Consult your doctor for appropriate risk management.
Preparation of a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
To prepare for laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the surgeon will recommend the patient to not eat anything before the night before the surgery. In some cases, four hours of an empty stomach is also viable for the procedure. Moreover, to ensure the surgery is effective, the surgeon will also recommend stopping the intake of certain medications and supplements since they could increase chances of bleeding.
The patient should wear loose and comfortable clothing and be prepared to spend at least one night at the hospital. However, in most cases, the patient is discharged on the same day of the surgery but is not allowed to drive back or leave without assistance.
Before a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed by keeping the patient under the influence of anaesthesia, which is given through a vein in the arm. Once, the patient is administered with anaesthesia, a thin, flexible tube is inserted down the throat to enable easy breathing.
After a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
In a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the patient can generally go home the same day since the pain is very bearable. Though in cases where complications arise, the patient might be required to stay a night at the hospital for monitoring. A full recovery will take about a week but a patient can eat, drink or walkunaided after the surgery.
Results of a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy
Post a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a patient will feel relieved from pain and discomfort caused due to gallstones or other related problems such as inflammation. This method also prevents gallstones from recurring unlike other conservative approaches including diet modifications.
In some cases, people might feel certain complications after the surgery; however, digestive problems are a rare complication since gallbladder is not essential for healthy digestion. That said, common problems such as loose stool or constipation can last for a day or two but will eventually be normal.
Patients can resume normal activities in a matter of days; typically in a laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery, the recovery rate is fast and a person can resume normal activities within 2-3 days. However, it is advisable to follow precautions and consult the doctor in case of any issues or before resuming normal activities.