Gallbladder Removal (Cholecystectomy)

Indication
Commonly, patients with gallbladder problems have nausea, vomiting, or various types of pain due to their gallbladder improperly functioning. In the majority of patients, the problem is the presence of stones within the gallbladder (cholelithiasis) although in some patients, the problem is that the gallbladder doesn’t contract, (or squeeze) normally. This is termed biliary dyskinesia, and is another indication for gallbladder removal.

Preoperative Evaluation
Blood work to evaluate the liver enzymes are checked in all patients. The gallbladder is imaged using ultrasound or in some cases a CAT scan. If biliary dyskinesia is suspected a HIDA scan is performed to evaluate the gallbladder function.

Procedure
In the vast majority of patients, the gallbladder can be removed laparoscopically using small incisions, a television camera, and long thin instruments. In some patients a longer, traditional incision is required.

Length of Stay
Outpatient or sometimes overnight stay after laparoscopic surgery, three to five days after open surgery.

Recovery
Activity as tolerated after laparoscopic surgery, though patients are unable to drive on prescription pain medication. After open surgery, driving is not permitted for two weeks and patients are to refrain from lifting over five pounds for six weeks.