Gallbladder removal - laparoscopic
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal is surgery to remove the gallbladder using a medical device called a laparoscope.
Cholecystectomy - laparoscopic
Using a laparoscope is the most common way to remove the gallbladder. A laparoscope is a thin, lighted tube that lets the doctor see inside your belly.
Gallbladder removal surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (unconscious and not able to feel pain). The surgeon will make 3 to 4 small cuts in your belly. The laparoscope will be inserted through 1 of the cuts. Other medical instruments will be inserted through the other cuts. Gas will be pumped into your belly to expand it. This gives the surgeon more space to work.
First, the surgeon cuts the bile duct and blood vessels that lead to the gallbladder. Then the surgeon removes the gallbladder, using the laparoscope.
A special x-ray called a cholangiogram will be done during your surgery. This involves squirting some dye into your common bile duct. This duct will be left inside you after your gallbladder has been removed. The dye helps locate other stones that may be outside your gallbladder. If any are found, the surgeon may be able to remove these other stones with a special medical instrument.
Sometimes the surgeon cannot safely take out the gallbladder using a laparoscope. In this case, the surgeon will instead do an open cholecystectomy.
See also: Gallbladder removal - open
Why the Procedure Is Performed
- Pain after eating, usually in the upper right or upper middle area of your belly (epigastric pain)
- Nausea and vomiting
Most people have fewer problems and a shorter hospital stay when their gallbladder is removed using a laparoscope compared to people who have open surgery. You will also have smaller incisions.
The risks for any anesthesia include:
- Reactions to drugs you are given
- Breathing problems
- Heart problems
- Blood clots in the legs or lungs
The risks for gallbladder surgery include:
Before the Procedure
Your doctor may ask you to have these medical tests done before you have surgery:
- Blood tests (complete blood count, electrolytes, and kidney tests)
- Chest x-ray or electrocardiogram (EKG), for some people
- Several x-rays of the gallbladder
Always tell your doctor or nurse:
- If you are or might be pregnant
- What drugs, vitamins, and other supplements you are taking, even ones you bought without a prescription
During the week before your surgery:
- You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), vitamin E, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
- Your doctor may ask you to "clean out" your colon or intestines.
- Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
On the day of your surgery:
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery.
- Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
- Shower the night before or the morning of your surgery.
- Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
Prepare your home for after the surgery.
After the Procedure
If you do not have any signs of problems, you will be able to go home when you are able to drink liquids easily. Most people go home on the same day or the day after this surgery.
If there were problems during your surgery, or if you have bleeding, a lot of pain, or a fever, you may need to stay in the hospital longer.
Most patients do very well and recover quickly.
Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. St. Louis, M0: WB Saunders; 2008: chap 54.
Diseases of the gallbladder and bile ducts. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 159.
Siddiqui T. Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Surg. Jan 2008; 195(1): 40-7.
Reviewed By: Robert J. Fitzgibbons, Jr., MD, FACS, Harry E. Stuckenhoff Professor of Surgery, Chief of General Surgery, and Associate Chairman, Department of Surgery, Creighton University School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.