When and how is surgery performed?
The operation is often done within a few days of being admitted to hospital. Sometimes the operation is delayed for several weeks until the inflammation has settled. Different techniques to remove the gallbladder may be used depending on various factors.
- Keyhole surgery is now the most common way to remove a gallbladder. The medical term for this operation is laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It is called keyhole surgery as only small cuts are needed in the tummy (abdomen) with small scars remaining afterwards. The operation is done with the aid of a special telescope that is pushed into the abdomen through one small cut. This allows the surgeon to see the gallbladder. Instruments pushed through another small cut are used to cut out and remove the gallbladder. Keyhole surgery is not suitable for all people.
- Some people need a traditional operation to remove the gallbladder. This is called cholecystectomy. In this operation a larger cut is needed to get at the gallbladder.
Do I have to have surgery?
If you do not have your gallbladder removed, there is a reasonable chance that you will have no further problems if the inflammation settles down. However, there is also a good chance that you would have further bouts of cholecystitis. This is why the usual treatment is to remove the gallbladder.
What happens after the gallbladder is removed?
You can usually eat a normal diet without any problems after your gallbladder is removed, although some patients are advised to eat a low-fat diet. Up to half of people who have had their gallbladder removed have some mild tummy (abdominal) pain or bloating from time to time. This may be more noticeable after eating a fatty meal. Some people notice an increase in the frequency of passing stools (faeces) after their gallbladder is removed. This is like mild diarrhoea. It can be treated by antidiarrhoeal medication if it becomes troublesome.
What is post-cholecystectomy syndrome?
Whilst it is unusual to have problems following gallbladder removal, some patients develop problems including tummy (abdominal) pain, yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes (jaundice) or indigestion symptoms.
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