The purpose of a cholecystectomy is to remove a damaged or ill-functioning gallbladder, so it’s not a procedure that you’ll have multiple times. Since everyone who needs a cholecystectomy is going through the procedure for the first time, it can be difficult to set and manage your expectations before, during and after the operation. We’re here to help push those doubts aside. Below, we share answers to some frequently asked questions about a cholecystectomy procedure.
Why would a person need a cholecystectomy?
The main reason why a person would need a cholecystectomy is because gallstones are preventing bile from being excreted by the gallbladder. This bile aids in digestion, and if it can’t flow out of the gallbladder as needed, the organ can become inflamed and cause severe pain. You don’t need your gallbladder, so sometimes it’s best to just remove the bile-storing organ.
Where does bile go after a cholecystectomy?
Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder before being secreted into the small intestine. After a cholecystectomy, the bile will flow directly from the liver into the small intestine.
How is a cholecystectomy performed?
For the minimally invasive operation, the patient is given anesthesia while lying on their back. Once the patient is out, the doctor makes a couple small incisions in your abdomen. A tube with a tiny camera attached is inserted in one of the openings to allow the surgeon to see. The surgeon then works to carefully remove the small organ before closing the wounds.
Is there another surgical option?
The procedure can also be performed with an “open” operation, where the doctor makes a larger cut in your abdomen to fully access the site without inserting a camera.
Is one method better than the other?
Almost all surgeons prefer the minimally invasive operation over the open procedure. That’s because the minimally invasive option reduces the risk of complications like bleeding or infection, there is less post-op pain and it offers a shorter recovery time.
How long does a cholecystectomy take?
In general, a cholecystectomy takes about 1-2 hours from start to finish, for both the minimally invasive and open procedure.
What are the risks of a cholecystectomy?
Complications are rare, but every surgery carries some risks. Some complications include bleeding, infection, bile duct injury, scarring or tissue herniation at the surgical site.
What is the recovery like after a cholecystectomy?
The patient can typically start eating and drinking after coming out of anesthesia. This is usually 3-4 hours after the operation. A person can also go to the bathroom at this time. The patient can typically go home 12-24 hours after the operation.
Are there any restrictions after a cholecystectomy?
The patient will be sore for a couple days, and while it comes down to your surgeon’s personal recommendations, usually a person can return to routine activities within 5 days and can go back to work in about 10-14 days. If your job has very physical demands, you may have a wait a little longer.