Don’t let the complicated name scare you! Cholecystectomy is a rather common surgery that only carries a small risk of complications. Your gallbladder stores any excess bile that your liver makes and releases it when you eat a meal rich in fats, to help digest it. Sometimes, stones develop in the gallbladder and block the flow of bile from the liver. Cholecystectomy, which involves removal of the gallbladder, may be necessary if you experience pain from these gallstones. In most cases, you will be discharged on the same day of the procedure. Before the surgeon removes the gallbladder, you may have a special X-ray procedure, called intra-operative cholangiography, which shows the anatomy of the bile ducts.
Post removal of your gallbladder, bile will flow from the liver (where it is made) through the common bile duct and into the small intestine. Because the gallbladder has been removed, the body can no longer store bile between meals. But, for most people, this has little or no effect on digestion. The gallbladder is one organ that you can live without, with no problem!
Gallbladder surgery can be done through both the laparoscopic and open methods, with the laparoscopic approach being the more common of the two. If open surgery is used, the gallbladder is removed through one large incision. This requires a longer hospital stay and more discomfort during the post-operative period, as compared to the laparoscopic surgery. In a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the surgeon inflates your abdomen with air or carbon dioxide in order to see clearly and then inserts a laparoscope, a slender instrument that enables the surgeon to examine the area, into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical instruments into the other incisions to remove your gallbladder. Sometimes, the surgeon might need to switch to the open method from laparoscopic if he encounters problems during the laparoscopic approach.
Your doctor will choose the approach that best suits your specific condition. But, make sure to get all your doubts clarified from your doctor before you leave for the hospital.
Recovery after Cholecystectomy
You may have gallbladder surgery as an outpatient, or you may stay for 1 or 2 days in the hospital. Most people can return to their normal activities in 7 to 10 days. People who have laparoscopic gallbladder surgery are sore for about a week, but in 2 to 3 weeks they have much less discomfort. No special diets or other precautions are needed after surgery.
After an open surgery, you will have to stay for 3 to 5 days in the hospital, and your recovery time will be longer. Typically, it takes 6 weeks to recover fully from the effects of an open surgery.
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