Gallbladder removal is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. Gallbladder removal surgery is usually performed with minimally invasive techniques and the medical name for this procedure is Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy or Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal.
What is the Gallbladder?
- The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver.
- Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid (bile) produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating, aiding digestion. Bile travels through narrow tubular channels (bile ducts) into the small intestine.
- Removal of the gallbladder is not associated with any impairment of digestion in most people.
What Causes Gallbladder Problems?
- Gallbladder problems are usually caused by the presence of gallstones which are usually small and hard, consisting primarily of cholesterol and bile salts that form in the gallbladder or in the bile duct.
- It is uncertain why some people form gallstones but risk factors include being female, prior pregnancy, age over 40 years and being overweight. Gallstones are also more common as you get older and some people may have a family history of gallstones.
- There is no known means to prevent gallstones.
- These stones may block the flow of bile out of the gallbladder, causing it to swell and resulting in sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, indigestion and, occasionally, fever.
- If the gallstone blocks the common bile duct, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) can occur.
Are you a Candidate for Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
Although there are many advantages to laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), the procedure may not be appropriate for some patients who have severe complicated gallbladder disease or previous upper abdominal surgery. A thorough medical evaluation by your personal physician, in consultation with a surgeon trained in laparoscopy, can determine if laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) is an appropriate procedure for you.
What Preparation is Required for Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
The following includes typical events that may occur prior to laparoscopic surgery; however, since each patient and surgeon is unique, what will actually occur may be different:
- Preoperative preparation includes blood work, medical evaluation, and an EKG depending on your age and medical condition.
- After your surgeon reviews with you the potential risks and benefits of the operation, you will need to provide written consent for surgery.
- It is recommended that you shower the night before or morning of the operation. Your surgeon may also want you to use an antibiotic soap.
- After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything. You may take medications that your surgeon has told you are permissible to take with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
- Drugs such as blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications) and Vitamin E may need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.
- Diet medication or St. John’s Wort should not be used for the two weeks prior to surgery.
- Quit smoking and arrange for any help you may need at home.
- Do not shave your abdomen before surgery.
What Happens if the Gallbladder Removal Cannot Be Performed or Completed by the Laparoscopic Method?
In a small number of patients the laparoscopic method cannot be performed for gallbladder removal. Factors that may increase the possibility of choosing or converting to the “open” procedure may include a very inflamed and scarred gallbladder, obesity, a history of prior abdominal surgery causing dense scar tissue, inability to visualize organs or bleeding problems during the operation.
The decision to perform the open procedure is a judgment decision made by your surgeon either before or during the actual operation. When the surgeon feels that it is safest to convert the laparoscopic procedure to an open one, this is not a complication, but rather good surgical judgment. The decision to convert to an open procedure is strictly based on patient safety.
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What Complications Can Occur from Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal?
While there are risks associated with any kind of operation, the vast majority of laparoscopic gallbladder removal patients experience few or no complications and quickly return to normal activities. It is important to remember that before undergoing any type of surgery — whether laparoscopic or open — you should ask your surgeon about his/her training and experience.
Complications of laparoscopic gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) are infrequent, but include bleeding, wound infection, hernias, blood clots, or heart problems. Unintended injury to adjacent structures such as the common bile duct, colon, or small intestine may occur and may require another surgical procedure to repair it. Bile leakage into the abdomen from the tubular channels leading from the liver to the intestine may rarely occur.
Numerous medical studies show that the complication rate for laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery is comparable to or even lower than the complication rate for open gallbladder removal surgery when performed by a properly trained surgeon. The overall rate of severe complications is low.
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When to Call Your Doctor After Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy?
Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you develop any of the following:
- Persistent fever over 101 degrees F (39 C)
- Severe abdominal pain
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Increasing abdominal swelling
- Pain that is not relieved by your medications
- Persistent cough or shortness of breath
- Purulent drainage (pus) from any incision
- Redness surrounding any of your incisions that is worsening or getting bigger
- You are unable to eat or drink liquids
- You have any other questions or concerns related to your recovery
How much does the procedure cost?
This is a self pay, all inclusive price. Price will vary based on insurance and health status, use of additional resources and so on. We offer financing options for qualified customers. Visit Our Pricing Page
The cost not only includes the price of the product, but more importantly, the skill and expertise of the specialist or healthcare professional that is doing the procedure. Look for someone who is licensed and trained and has experience treating patients using this procedure. Enroll in the SurgiCare Rewards Program to save money on treatments.
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