Cholecystectomy is a surgical removal of the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver. The gallbladder is responsible for collecting and releasing bile, a fluid that is used in the digestion of food and produced by the liver. A cholecystectomy is usually performed when the gallbladder is not functioning normally or if gallstones are present, causing distress to the patient.
Before the cholecystectomy procedure, a full physical exam and review of medical history will be performed. The doctor will need to be aware of all medications that are currently being taken, as some of them may need to be stopped before the procedure. Based on your medical condition other preparation procedures may need to be performed.
Types of Cholecystectomy Procedures
The cholecystectomy procedure can be performed as either an open procedure or laparoscopically. Both types of procedures are performed with general anesthesia.
The open procedure is usually performed on patients who have had previous abdominal surgeries and are unable to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. An incision will be made in the upper portion of the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. The bile duct will be examined to determine if stones are present. If they are, the stones in the bile duct will be removed. A drain may be inserted through the incision to aid in the removal of fluids.
The laparoscopic method is a minimally invasive procedure that results in less scarring, less pain, a shorter hospital stay and a much speedier recovery for the patient. Several small incisions are made in the abdomen. The abdominal cavity is inflated with carbon dioxide gas so that the gallbladder and the organs surrounding it are able to be seen. The laparoscope and surgical instruments are inserted through the small incisions to remove the gallbladder. The bile duct will be examined to determine if stones are present. If they are, the stones in the bile duct will be removed.
After the Cholecystectomy Procedure
After the cholecystectomy procedure, the patient is transferred to a recovery room for observation. Patients that have undergone a laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be able to return home the same day, although an overnight stay might be required. Full recovery from a laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be achieved in a week. Patients that underwent an open cholecystectomy procedure may spend a few days in the hospital, and may expect a full recovery in four to six weeks. Patients need to follow all postoperative instructions closely to ensure a speedy recovery.