The gallbladder is a small organ located just below your liver in your right upper abdomen, and stores bile. The hardened deposits of this digestive fluid form gallstones in the gallbladder. Laparoscopic gallbladder removal is a minimally invasive surgery in which small incisions and specialized tools are used to remove a gallbladder affected by gallstones.
This type of surgery also helps with conditions such as
- biliary dyskinesia, which occurs when the gallbladder doesn’t empty bile correctly due to a defect
- choledocholithiasis, which arises when gallstones move to the common bile duct and potentially cause a blockage that prevents the gallbladder and rest of the biliary tree from draining
- cholecystitis, which is an inflammation of the gallbladder
- pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas that is related to gallstones
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is preferred over open surgery as smaller incisions reduce your risk of infection, bleeding, and recovery time. This is not the case for open surgeries.
Laparoscopic surgery for gallstones involves several small incisions in the abdomen. The surgeon inflates the stomach with air or carbon dioxide to see clearly and inserts a lighted scope attached to a video camera (laparoscope) into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical instruments into the other incisions to remove your gallbladder.
Before the surgeon removes the gallbladder, you may have a special X-ray procedure called intraoperative cholangiography, which shows the anatomy of the bile ducts.
The surgery is performed under general anaesthesia and lasts for 2 hours or less.
After a successful surgery, bile flows from the liver through the common bile duct and into the small intestine. The body can no longer store bile between meals. In most people but this has little or no effect on digestion.
The symptoms related to eating after gallbladder removal surgery are abdominal symptoms, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. Caring for your incision wounds includes washing them properly. The stitches are usually removed at a follow-up appointment. The overall risk of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is very low, but possible complications include:
- Infection of an incision.
- Internal bleeding.
- Injury to the common bile duct.
- Damage to the small intestine by one of the instruments used during surgery.
- Risks of general anaesthesia.
Other uncommon complications may include:
- Gallstones that remain in the abdominal cavity.
- Bile that leaks into the abdominal cavity.
- Injury to abdominal blood vessels, such as the major blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the liver (hepatic artery).
- A gallstone being pushed into the common bile duct.
- The liver being cut.
These may require further surgeries.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is safe and effective and gets rid of gallstones located in the gallbladder. This surgery can be outpatient or may require a short hospital stay. Going back to normal life activities after the surgery usually takes around a week. You will spend less time away from work and other activities after laparoscopic surgery, so planning ahead of the surgery is advisable.