The gallbladder is responsible for storing bile, the fat-digesting liquid produced by the liver. Over time, gallstones can form from the crystallization of bile components. Most people never have symptoms caused by the stones, until the onset of excruciating pain caused by a gallstone attack (biliary colic).
Once symptoms develop, the only viable treatment is to completely remove the gallbladder. If left untreated, the gallstone crystals can block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder into your digestive system. This blockage may cause what is known as cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder - which is often accompanied by severe pain. Moreover, gallstones can also move to other parts of your body, such as the liver or intestines, causing further pain.
All surgeries, whether they be big or small, carry risks. For a cholecystectomy these typically include:
Risks of Surgery
You may need to take antibiotics before surgery. Routine blood work is usually not needed but may be ordered prior to surgery based on the patient's age and the presence of any existing medical problems.
Before your surgery, a nurse or doctor will plan the site, clean the affected area, and consult with you for any questions you may have. General anesthesia will then be administered under the supervision of an anesthesiologist and your surgeon.
The procedure itself may take one to two hours to perform, depending on the complexity of the condition. Typically, your doctor will give you a heads up on how long the procedure should last.
There are numerous ways to surgically treat a gallbladder removal. At Clinique Michel Gagner, we perform the removal laparoscopically. That means you will be put under general anesthesia, your abdomen will be inflated, surgical instruments will be inserted through small incisions, and the surgery will be performed through the use of a laparoscope - a small camera that live streams to a television, which the surgeon uses to spatially map your abdomen and gives them a close-up view of your insides.
Using their surgical instruments, your surgeon will detach the gallbladder from the rest of your body and remove it. Once this is done, the team will close the incision sites with stitches or surgical glue.
Recovery time for a cholecystectomy will vary, but you should feel back to normal within a few weeks. Residual pain may last up to a week after surgery. Be sure to keep the incision area clean and dry to avoid the possibility of infection. Itchiness or soreness is common, however let your doctor know if you experience swelling or excessive pain.
You will need to arrange for a ride home the day of your surgery and we recommend someone stay with you for the first 24 hours at home. When you leave the facility after surgery, we will want you to go home and rest. Avoid making any other plans on the day of your surgery. Starting the following day, you can increase your activity as you feel up to it.
You will likely be given a prescription for pain medication following your surgery. The recovery nurse will discuss a pain control plan following surgery specific to you and your needs including activities like ice applied over incisions and a medication regimen. Oftentimes we will recommend taking Tylenol and Advil (same as Motrin, Ibuprofen) or Aleve in addition to the narcotic pain medication.
Did you know we have a support group?
Your questions and concerns have most likely been asked and answered in our support group. Moderated by our dietitian's, nurses, and staff. We provide you with reliable patient education and resources to help you throughout this life-changing process.