Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

ExitCare ImageLaparoscopic cholecystectomy is surgery to remove the gallbladder. The gallbladder is located slightly to the right of center in the abdomen, behind the liver. It is a concentrating and storage sac for the bile produced in the liver. Bile aids in the digestion and absorption of fats. Gallbladder disease (cholecystitis) is an inflammation of your gallbladder. This condition is usually caused by a buildup of gallstones (cholelithiasis) in your gallbladder. Gallstones can block the flow of bile, resulting in inflammation and pain. In severe cases, emergency surgery may be required. When emergency surgery is not required, you will have time to prepare for the procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery is an alternative to open surgery. Laparoscopic surgery usually has a shorter recovery time. Your common bile duct may also need to be examined and explored. Your caregiver will discuss this with you if he or she feels this should be done. If stones are found in the common bile duct, they may be removed.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • ExitCare ImagePossibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

All surgery is associated with risks. Some problems that may occur following this procedure include:

  • Infection.

  • Damage to the common bile duct, nerves, arteries, veins, or other internal organs such as the stomach or intestines.

  • Bleeding.

  • A stone may remain in the common bile duct.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

  • Do not take aspirin for 3 days prior to surgery or blood thinners for 1 week prior to surgery.

  • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery.

  • Let your caregiver know if you develop a cold or other infectious problem prior to surgery.

  • You should be present 60 minutes before the procedure or as directed.

PROCEDURE

You will be given medicine that makes you sleep (general anesthetic). When you are asleep, your surgeon will make several small cuts (incisions) in your abdomen. One of these incisions is used to insert a small, lighted scope (laparoscope) into the abdomen. The laparoscope helps the surgeon see into your abdomen. Carbon dioxide gas will be pumped into your abdomen. The gas allows more room for the surgeon to perform your surgery. Other operating instruments are inserted through the other incisions.

Laparoscopic procedures may not be appropriate when:

  • There is major scarring from previous surgery.

  • The gallbladder is extremely inflamed.

  • There are bleeding disorders or unexpected cirrhosis of the liver.

  • A pregnancy is near term.

  • Other conditions make the laparoscopic procedure impossible.

If your surgeon feels it is not safe to continue with a laparoscopic procedure, he or she will perform an open abdominal procedure. In this case, the surgeon will make an incision to open the abdomen. This gives the surgeon a larger view and field to work within. This may allow the surgeon to perform procedures that sometimes cannot be performed with a laparoscope alone. Open surgery has a longer recovery time.

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You will be taken to the recovery area where a nurse will watch and check your progress.

  • You may be allowed to go home the same day.

  • Do not resume physical activities until directed by your caregiver.

  • You may resume a normal diet and activities as directed.