General questions about gallbladder removal surgery

Gallstones are small ‘stones’ that form in the gallbladder. They are quite common. Some people have gallstones and are without symptoms but for others they result in frequent flare-ups of abdominal pain.

The gallbladder is a small, pouch-like organ in the upper right part of your tummy. It stores bile, a fluid produced by the liver that helps break down fatty foods.

The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes no more than 30-60 minutes in theatre.

Unless we agree otherwise beforehand, we expect my patients to go home the same day.

We expect you to be able to return to light work in 4-7 days. It’s important that your work isn’t strenuous. We encourage exercise to accelerate your recovery but you shouldn’t do this too soon.

The primary benefit of surgery is that you should be free of pain and able to eat a normal diet. Surgery should also prevent the longer term complications associated with untreated gallstones.

It’s no secret that the NHS is under more pressure than ever before. The likelihood is that if you are offered gallbladder removal on the NHS it could take up to 18 months to happen due to growing waiting lists.

There are complications associated with all types of surgery and complications associated specifically with cholecystectomy. These complications are listed below. When we meet for consultation we will talk about these, incidence rates and how they might affect you.

Although it may appear a long list, as we have stated before, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is proven to be a very safe procedure so incidence rates for these complications are very low.

Cholecystectomy specific complications

  • Leaking of bile or stones
  • Retained stones
  • Persistent pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation in the abdomen
  • Common Bile duct injury – this is a very serious injury but the incidence is low at approximately 1 in 200 patients.
  • Bowel injury
  • Serious damage to the liver

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