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Gallbladder Surgery

What is it?

Gallbladder removal using keyhole surgery. (Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)

The gallbladder is a small non-vital organ which aids in the digestive process and concentrates bile produced in the liver. When foods containing fats arrive in the small intestine, the gallbladder releases the stored bile into the duodenum. Here the bile helps to break down fats and also neutralize acids in the food that has arrived from the stomach.

When gallstones form, they may block the flow of bile from the gallbladder, causing pain or leading to more serious complications.

Complications of gallstones include:
  • Cholecystitis – Infection and inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Biliary colic – Severe Pain which comes and goes, this can be associated with fatty meals
  • Biliary Obstruction – stones can travel down your bile duct and block it causing you to become jaundiced(yellow)
  • Pancreatitis – this is a severe condition in which the pancreas is inflamed and can cause you to become very sick with sever abdominal pain
Symptoms of gallstones can include one or all of the following:
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Anorexia – feeling off your food
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice – yellowing of skin, pale stools and dark urine

About one adult in every 10 form gallstones which usually requires the removal of the gallbladder.
Gallstones vary in size and shape from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball.  You may also develop sludge in association with your gallstones. You may develop one or many gallstones.

The composition of gallstones is affected by age, diet and ethnicity

Cholesterol stones

These gallstones vary from light yellow to dark green or brown and are oval. To be classified as such, they must be at least 80% cholesterol by weight.

Pigment stones

These  gallstones are small and dark and comprise bilirubin and calcium salts that are found in bile. They contain less than 20% of cholesterol.

Mixed stones

Mixed gallstones typically contain 20–80% cholesterol and other constituents including are calcium carbonate, phosphate, bilirubin and other bile pigments. Because of their calcium content, they are often radiographically visible.

How is it done?

Gallbladder removal or laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the removal of the gallbladder using keyhole surgery.

This involves placing a telescope though the belly button and between the layers of your abdominal wall, giving the surgeon a magnified view of your internal organs.

Three further small incisions are made allowing for the insertion of surgical equipment called cannulas.

These cannulas to insert small instruments into your abdominal cavity. This allows your surgeon to delicately separate the gallbladder from its attachments and then remove it though one of the small incisions.

During the operation dye is inserted into your bile ducts to ensure there are no stones in your bile ducts and all of the anatomy is normal.

Post-operation information

  • Discharge home is usually the day after surgery.
  • After waking from your operation, you may have some pain, this is typically at the bellybutton wound. Gallbladder removal is a major abdominal operation and certain amount of post operative pain can occur.
  • Occasionally, some patients can experience a little abdominal bloating or shoulder tip pain, this should pass within a few hours.
  • Early mobilisation is encouraged (as soon as you feel able).
  • In general, recovery should be progressive once you are home.
  • Your dressings are waterproof & you can shower.
  • Dressings should be removed 14 days after surgery, (or if discharge is evident). Contact the Practice Nurse if unsure.
  • Driving is permitted 3-5 days post surgery, depending on how you feel. Start with short journeys and someone with you who is able to drive.
  • Return to work can be as soon as seven days after your operation, depending on the nature of your work.

More information

All of the information you need to know, pre and post-operatively, will be made available to you in separate information packs given to you before and after your surgery.
We are available to assist you with any questions that you might have at any time during or after your surgery.