open gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy), the surgeon removes the
gallbladder through a single, large cut (incision) in the
abdomen. You will need general anesthesia, and the surgery lasts 1 to 2 hours.
The surgeon will make the incision either under the border of the right rib
cage or in the middle of the upper part of the abdomen (between the belly
button and the end of the breastbone).
Doctors do most open
gallbladder surgeries after trying first to remove the gallbladder with
laparoscopic surgery. A few people have conditions that require open
gallbladder surgery. For more information, see the Why It Is Done section
After surgery to remove the gallbladder, bile flows from
the liver (where it is produced) through the
common bile duct and into the small intestine. Because
the gallbladder is gone, bile no longer is stored between meals. In most
people, this has little or no effect on digestion.
What To Expect After Surgery
Surgery usually involves a hospital
stay of 2 to 4 days or longer. Most people can return to their normal
activities in 4 to 6 weeks. Open surgery involves more pain afterward and a
longer recovery period than laparoscopic surgery.
surgery leaves a moderately large scar [4 in. (10.2 cm) to
8 in. (20.3 cm) long].
No special diets or other precautions are needed after surgery.
A major bleeding disorder or use of
medicines to prevent blood clotting (blood thinners or
Scar tissue from many previous abdominal
Abnormal anatomy in the abdomen.
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, or bleeding.
How Well It Works
Surgery reduces the risk that
gallstones will come back. But gallstones sometimes
form in the bile ducts years after cholecystectomy, although this is not
The possible complications of open gallbladder
Injury to the common bile
Infection of the surgical
Injuries to the liver, intestines, or major abdominal blood
Blood clots or
pneumonia related to the longer recovery period after
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
July 15, 2011
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
July 15, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this