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A cholecystectomy is surgery to remove your gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small organ under your liver. It is on the upper right side of your belly or abdomen. The gallbladder stores a digestive juice called bile which is made in the liver.
There are 2 types of surgery to remove the gallbladder:
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is less invasive. That means it uses very small incisions in your belly. There is less bleeding. The recovery time is usually shorter than an open surgery.
In some cases the laparoscope may show that your gallbladder is very diseased. Or it may show other problems. Then the surgeon may have to use an open surgery method to remove your gallbladder safely.
A cholecystectomy may be done if your gallbladder:
Gallbladder problems may cause pain which:
Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.
The symptoms of gallbladder problems may look like other health problems. Always see your health care provider to be sure.
Your health care provider may have other reasons to recommend a cholecystectomy.
Some possible complications of a cholecystectomy may include:
During a laparoscopic procedure, surgical tools are put into your belly. This may hurt your intestines or blood vessels.
You may have other risks that are unique to you. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider before the procedure.
You may have a cholecystectomy as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the surgery is done may vary depending on your condition and your health care provider's practices.
A cholecystectomy is generally done while you are given medicines to put you into a deep sleep (under general anesthesia).
Generally, a cholecystectomy follows this process:
After the procedure, you will be taken to the recovery room to be watched. Your recovery process will depend on the type of surgery and the type of anesthesia you had. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are awake and alert, you will be taken to your hospital room.
A laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be done on an outpatient basis. In this case, you may be discharged home from the recovery room.
You will get pain medicine as needed. A nurse may give it to you. Or you may give it to yourself through a device connected to your IV (intravenous) line.
You may have a thin plastic tube that goes through your nose into your stomach. This is to remove air that you swallow. The tube will be taken out when your bowels are working normally. You won’t be able to eat or drink until the tube is removed.
You may have 1 or more drains in the incision if an open procedure was done. The drains will be removed in a day or so. You might be discharged with the drain still in and covered with a dressing. Follow your provider’s instructions for taking care of it.
You will be asked to get out of bed a few hours after a laparoscopic procedure or by the next day after an open procedure.
Depending on your situation, you may be given liquids to drink a few hours after surgery. You will slowly be able to eat more solid foods as tolerated.
Arrangements will be made for a follow-up visit with your provider. This is usually 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.
Once you are home, it’s important to keep the incision clean and dry. Your provider will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches or surgical staples are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and usually will fall off within a few days.
The incision and your abdominal muscles may ache, especially after long periods of standing. If you had a laparoscopic surgery, you may feel pain from any carbon dioxide gas still in your belly. This pain may last for a few days. It should feel a bit better each day.
Take a pain reliever as recommended by your provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Be sure to take only medicines your health care provider has approved.
Walking and limited movement are generally fine. But you should avoid strenuous activity. Your provider will tell you when you can return to work and go back to normal activities.
Call your provider if you have any of the following:
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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