What is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy? A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure in which your health care provider removes your gallbladder with a laparoscope and other surgical tools. A laparoscope is a thin metal tube with a light and tiny camera. Your provider can put it into your abdominal cavity and see your internal organs, such as your gallbladder.
When is it used? This procedure is performed when you have stones or polyps in your gallbladder or if your gallbladder is not functioning properly (biliary dyskinesia). The gallbladder is shaped like a balloon and holds bile. Bile is produced in the liver and helps with digestion of food in the intestinal tract. Bile can form a sediment in the bottom of the gallbladder and form gallstones. These stones may remain loose in your gallbladder, block the gallbladder, plug the common bile duct, or pass into your intestine. Blockage can cause abdominal pain, swelling, or infection.
removing the gallbladder by open surgery without a laparoscope
having the stones dissolved with drugs (stones almost always reoccur)
choosing not to have treatment, recognizing the risks of your problem.
How do I prepare for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy? Plan for your care and recovery after the operation. Allow for time to rest. Try to find people to help you with your day-to-day duties for the first couple of days after surgery. Follow the instructions provided by your health care provider. The night before the procedure, eat a light meal such as soup and salad. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight and the morning before the procedure. Do not even drink coffee, tea, or water.
What happens during the procedure? You are given a general anesthetic. A general anesthetic will relax your muscles and put you to sleep. It will prevent you from feeling pain during the operation. Your peritoneal cavity will be inflated with carbon dioxide gas. This expands your peritoneal cavity like a balloon and helps your provider see your organs. Your provider makes 3 or more small cuts in your abdomen, inserts the gas, and uses the laparoscope to look in your abdomen and find the gallbladder. Your provider then removes your gallbladder and the stones with electrical cautery (electrical current).
What happens after the procedure? You may leave the hospital later the same day or in about 1 to 2 days, depending on your condition. You may return to a normal lifestyle within 7 to 1o days with some restrictions on lifting and strenuous activity for 3 – 4weeks. Ask your health care provider if there are any restrictions on lifting or exercising. Ask what steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup. What are the benefits of this procedure? You will be rid of the painful gallbladder without the major pain and discomfort of open abdominal surgery. Your stay at the hospital should be shorter.
What are the risks associated with this procedure?
There are some risks when you have general anesthesia. Discuss these risks with your health care provider.
You may have infection or bleeding.
The common bile duct or another nearby organ may be damaged. You may need further surgery for repairs of the damage.
The bile may leak. To correct this, your provider may put in a drainage tube.
You may have pain in your shoulder from the carbon dioxide used to inflate your abdominal cavity.
You should ask your health care provider how these risks apply to you.
When should I call my health care provider?
Call your provider right away if:
You develop a fever.
You have bleeding.
You have a foul-smelling wound.
You have severe pain.
You have nausea or vomiting.
Call your provider during office hours if:
You have questions about the procedure or its result. You want to make another appointment.