A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure that the doctor uses to remove the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located just below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen.
The gallbladder collects and stores bile which is a digestive fluid produced in the liver. Cholecystectomy is a common surgical procedure that carries fewer risks of complications.
A cholecystectomy is most commonly done to treat gallstones and the complications they cause. The doctor may recommend this surgical procedure if you have:
- Gallstones in the gallbladder (cholelithiasis)
- Gallstones in the bile duct (Choledocholithiasis)
- Gallbladder inflammation (Cholecystitis)
- Large gallbladder polyps
- Pancreas inflammation due to gallstones
A cholecystectomy is usually done on an outpatient basis. However, in some cases, the patient might need to stay at the hospital depending on the condition of the patient and the need for this surgical procedure.
Generally, a cholecystectomy is done under the influence of general anaesthesia and the following processes are followed.
- The doctor asks you to take off any jewellery or other objects that might interfere with the surgical procedure.
- You are advised to remove your clothes and wear a gown provided by the doctor’s team.
- An intravenous line is inserted in your arm or hand.
- The doctor asks you to lie down on your back on the operating table. Then you are given anaesthesia.
- The doctor puts a tube down your throat that helps you breathe. The anesthesiologist checks your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgical procedure.
- If there is a lot of hair at the surgical site, the doctor may suggest shaving it.
- The skin over the surgical site is cleaned with a sterile solution.
Open or Traditional Cholecystectomy
- The doctor makes an incision under the ribs on the right side of the abdomen or it may be made in the upper part of the abdomen.
- The gallbladder is removed.
- In some cases, one or more drains may be put into the incision, allowing drainage of fluids or pus.
- About 3-4 small incisions are made in the abdomen. Carbon dioxide gas is put into the abdomen to swell it up. This helps the doctor to see the gallbladder and nearby organs easily and clearly.
- A medical instrument called a laparoscope is put into an incision and surgical tools are put through other incisions to remove the gallbladder.
- Once the surgery is completed, the laparoscope and the surgical tools are removed.
After completion of the surgery, the incisions are closed with stitches or surgical staples and the gallbladder is sent to a lab for testing. After that, a sterile bandage or dressing or adhesive strips is used to cover the wounds.
A cholecystectomy carries a small risk of complications that may include the following:-
- Bile leak
- Injury to nearby structures, including bile duct, liver and small intestine.
- Risks of general anaesthesia, such as blood clots and pneumonia.
The risk of complications depends on the age and overall health of the patient and the reason for cholecystectomy.