Everything you need to know about the removal of your gall bladder

What is a cholecystectomy?

A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the gall bladder. The gallbladder is a small organ that sits below the liver collecting and storing bile which is then used to help digest food.

Why might you need a cholecystectomy?

This procedure may be required if the gallbladder becomes blocked by gallstones created within the bile, the gallbladder or pancreas becomes inflamed, or there is a blockage in the bile duct that connects the gallbladder to the liver. Symptoms that can indicate an issue with the gallbladder can include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

General Procedure

This procedure is usually performed laparoscopically through four small incisions in the abdomen. One of these incisions will be used to insert a laparoscope so that the surgeon can see inside the abdomen and the other three will be used to perform the surgery. Gas will be slowly pumped into the abdominal cavity to move the organs away form the abdominal wall allowing the surgeon easier access and a better view of the gallbladder. The gallbladder will then be isolated from the connecting ducts and arteries using surgical clips and then removed completely. Finally the surgeon will allow the gas to escape before closing the incisions. This procedure is performed under general anaesthetic.

Post-op care

After the procedure your vitals will be monitored to ensure that they stay within an acceptable range. If they do, you will usually be allowed to go home within 24 hours. As the anaesthetic wears off you may experience a headache, nausea or vomiting which can be controlled with medicine. You will have some pain in the abdomen and possibly in the shoulder from the gas used in the procedure. It is important to note that driving after the surgery is not recommended, therefore you should organise alternative transportation. Once at home you should make sure to keep your wounds clean, refrain from smoking, lifting heavy objects or driving for the first seven days after surgery. It is expected that you can return to normal activity within two weeks.