(Gallbladder Removal; Lap Chole)
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.
Cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder. Laparoscopic is one method for this surgery. Special tools are passed through small cuts in the belly. The tools will be able to cut and remove the gallbladder. This option can decrease recovery time compared to an open surgery which needs a large cut into the belly.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
A diseased or damaged gallbladder may need to be removed. Gallstones are the most common cause. The stones can cause damage to gallbladder and liver if left untreated.
Possible Complications TOP
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review problems that can occur like:
Some factors that can increase your risk of problems include:
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor will use info from earlier tests. Helpful information may include:
Leading up to your procedure:
General anesthesia will be used. You will be asleep for the procedure.
Description of Procedure TOP
Four small cuts will be made in your belly. Air will be pumped into the belly. It will increase space inside and make it easier to see the gallbladder.
A small scope will be passed through one of the openings. It will send images of the inside to a screen in the room. The doctor will use the images to guide the tools and remove the gallbladder. Other tools will be passed through the other cuts. They will be used to hold the gallbladder. They will clip off the main artery and tube that passes fluid to intestine. Once it is detached the gallbladder will be removed. The doctor may look for stones in the remaining tube that runs from the liver to the intestine. A special dye may be used to make the stones more visible. Any stones will be removed. The belly will be carefully checked. The cuts will be closed with stitches or staples. The area will be covered with bandages.
A tiny, flexible tube may be placed in one of the cuts. It will exit from your belly into a little bulb. It will help to drain fluid from the area to help recovery. The tube is usually removed within 1 week.
Immediately After Procedure TOP
You will be taken to a recovery room. There you will be cared for while you wake up from anesthesia.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
About 30-60 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. The cuts can be uncomfortable for a few days. The air used to pump up the stomach can also cause some discomfort. Medicine can help to manage the discomfort as well as rest.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
You may be able to go home the same day or the next day. You may need to stay longer if there were problems.
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Hospital
After the procedure, the hospital staff will:
At first, your intestines will work more slowly than usual. Chewing gum may help.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection such as:
Full recovery takes about 3 weeks. The gallbladder plays a role in breaking down fatty food. The liver will begin to take over the job but you may need to make some changes in the beginning. You will be given a food plan. It will include slowly getting back to your regular diet. Some can have discomfort after eating fatty foods. This is most true in the first month after surgery. Slowly add different foods to your diet. Focus on smaller meals. This may prevent major discomfort.
Call Your Doctor TOP
Call your doctor if any of these occur::
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Gastroenterological Association
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Cholecystectomy. American College of Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.facs.org/~/media/files/education/patient%20ed/cholesys.ashx. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Cholecystectomy. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900759/Cholecystectomy. Updated June 16, 2017. Accessed March 26, 2018.
Clayton ES, Connor S, Alexakis N, Leandros E. Meta-analysis of endoscopy and surgery versus surgery alone for common bile duct stones with the gallbladder in situ. Br J Surg. 2006;93(10):1185-1191.
Dasari BV, Tan CJ, Gurusamy KS, et al. Surgical versus endoscopic treatment of bile duct stones. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;12:CD003327.
Gallbladder surgery: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. UC Davis Health website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed March 26, 2018.
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-gallbladder-removal-cholecystectomy-from-sages. Updated March 1, 2015. Accessed March 26, 2018.
3/23/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Short V, Herbert G, Perry R, et al. Chewing gum for postoperative recovery of gastrointestinal function. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;2:CD006506.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 9/3/2018
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