Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery
(cholecystectomy) removes the
gallstones through several small cuts (incisions) in the
abdomen. The surgeon inflates your abdomen with air or carbon dioxide in order
to see clearly.
The surgeon inserts a lighted scope attached to a
video camera (laparoscope) into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon
then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical instruments into
the other incisions to remove your gallbladder.
Before the surgeon
removes the gallbladder, you may have a special X-ray procedure called
intraoperative cholangiography, which shows the
anatomy of the bile ducts.
You will need general anesthesia for
this surgery, which usually lasts 2 hours or less.
bile flows from the liver (where it is made) through the common bile duct and
into the small intestine. Because the gallbladder has been removed, the body
can no longer store bile between meals. In most people, this has little or no
effect on digestion.
In 5 to 10 out of 100 laparoscopic gallbladder
surgeries in the United States, the surgeon needs to switch to an open surgical
method that requires a larger incision.1 Examples of
problems that can require open rather than laparoscopic surgery include
unexpected inflammation, scar tissue, injury, and bleeding.
What To Expect After Surgery
You may have gallbladder surgery as an
outpatient, or you may stay 1 or 2 days in the hospital.
Most people can return to their normal activities in 7 to 10 days. People who have laparoscopic gallbladder surgery are sore for
about a week. But in 2 to 3 weeks they have much less discomfort than
people who have open surgery. No special diets or other precautions are needed
Why It Is Done
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is
the best method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms, unless there is a
reason that the surgery should not be done.
is used most commonly when no factors are present that may complicate the
How Well It Works
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is
safe and effective. Surgery gets rid of gallstones
located in the gallbladder. It does not remove stones in the common bile duct.
Gallstones can form in the common bile duct years after the gallbladder is
removed, although this is rare.
The overall risk of laparoscopic gallbladder
surgery is very low. The most serious possible complications include:
Other uncommon complications may include:
- Gallstones that
remain in the abdominal cavity.
- Bile that leaks into the abdominal
- Injury to abdominal blood vessels, such as the major blood
vessel carrying blood from the heart to the liver (hepatic artery). This is
- A gallstone being pushed into the common bile
- The liver being cut.
More surgery may be needed to repair these
After gallbladder surgery, some people have ongoing
abdominal symptoms, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea (postcholecystectomy syndrome).
What To Think About
Recovery is much faster and less
painful after laparoscopic surgery than after open surgery.
- The hospital stay after laparoscopic surgery is
shorter than after open surgery. People generally go home the same day or
the next day, compared with 2 to 4 days or longer for open
- Recovery is faster after laparoscopic
- You will spend less time away from work and other
activities after laparoscopic surgery (about 7 to 10 days compared with 4
to 6 weeks).
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Glasgow RE, Mulvihill SJ (2010). Treatment of gallstone disease. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1121–1138. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of
||July 10, 2013