Gallbladder Surgery (Laproscopic Cholesectomy)

If your GP has diagnosed you with having biliary pain, which is likely being caused by gall stones, this can be relieved with an operation. If you are otherwise healthy, it is possible for your GP to manage your pre-operative and post-operative care. This may expedite the process for you, and avoid multiple visits to the hospital to see the surgeon and anaesthetist.


What is the Gallbladder?

The Gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that rests under your liver. Its main
function is to collect and store bile, which is a fluid that helps digest fat. Gallstones can form in the gall bladder, and in a small percentage of these people, symptoms can develop. When you eat, bile flows freely from the gallbladder into your small bowel to help digest your food. However, if a gallstone plugs the outflow from the gallbladder, you may get pain. If the gallstones are left untreated, complications may develop. These include inflammation of the gallbladder, which is called cholecystitis. In some instances, these stones can travel into the bile duct, and cause a blockage of the bile duct that can result in pain, jaundice or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Generally the symptoms will resolve once the gallbladder has been removed. In some instances, the pain may persist, due to other conditions such as bile duct problems. If your symptoms persist following the operation, you will need to let your Doctor know, so this can be followed up.Once the gallbladder has been removed, bile will still flow freely into your small intestine, and you will be a be able to digest your food normally.

What causes Gallstones?

The gallbladder concentrates bile, therefore if the bile, cholesterol or fluid becomes
unbalanced within the gallbladder, the chemicals in bile can solidify and form a crystal. Gallstones then form. Most of them are made up of cholesterol. Doctors do not know exactly why some people get gallstones, while others do not, however pregnancy, obesity or rapid weight loss, female, older age and some ethnic groups of people are more likely to develop gallstones.

There is no treatment or diet that can prevent or treat gallstones, however, in most
people gallstones do not cause symptoms and therefore the symptoms can come and go over many years. However, once you have been getting pain from gallstones it does tend to recur if left untreated. Gallstone pain typically occurs after a meal. It is a severe steady pain in the abdomen they can go to your back. There is often bloating or vomiting with the pain.

What is a Laproscopic Cholecystectomy

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, using a tube shaped telescope (commonly known as keyhole surgery). Usually about four to five small incisions are made in the abdomen.
In a small number of cases, this procedure cannot be performed by keyhole surgery, and the surgeon will need to perform an "open" procedure instead. This involves making a larger incision, and may result in you staying in hospital for a longer period of time. Reasons for needing an "open" cholecystectomy include a history of previous abdominal surgery, severe inflammation, the surgeon being unable to visualise the organs, and risk of damage to surrounding internal organs, pregnancy, or bleeding disorders.

The surgeon will make the decision to perform an open procedure, either before or during your operation, based purely on the safest way to remove your gallbladder.
The gallbladder is not an essential organ, so you will still be able to digest food normally after this operation. However, some people do experience indigestion or bloating on occasions after having their gallbladder removed.

Why a Laproscopic Cholecystectomy

For most people laparoscopic procedure has benefits over an open procedure. These include less discomfort after surgery, a shorter time in hospital, a faster recovery, a better cosmetic experience and small scars instead of a large scar.
The surgery is performed through several small puncture wounds in the abdomen.
Carbon dioxide is blown into the abdominal cavity to create a space, by lifting the
abdominal wall off the liver and gallbladder. Then using a small video camera attached to the laparoscope, the surgeon is able to see inside your abdomen. The operating instruments are placed through small puncture wounds around the gallbladder, and under vision the tissues holding the gallbladder onto the liver are dissected free.

In some cases a dye test and x-ray is performed to ensure that there are no stones in the bile duct. If stones are in the bile duct, these may be removed at this time or at a later procedure. Clips are used to close off the artery that supplies the gallbladder and the cystic duct (the tube that drains the gallbladder). These clips remain in your body. At the end of the procedure the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape from your body, and the incisions are closed.

Why does the Gallbladder need to be removed?

Gallstones in the gallbladder is a common problem, affecting about one in every 10 adults. If these gallstones are causing you pain and other symptoms, they are usually best treated by removing the gallbladder. If just the stones are removed, it is likely that they will just reform over time.

Last updated: May 25, 2017