Gallbladder Removal Surgery : Everything You Need To Know


The removal of your gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ that is located immediately below your liver on the upper right side of your belly, requires a surgical procedure called a cholecystectomy. Bile, a digestive fluid created by your liver, is collected and stored in your gallbladder.

The risk of complications from cholecystectomy surgery is low and it is a common procedure. The day of your cholecystectomy is often when you can return home.

The procedure used to remove the gallbladder during a cholecystectomy most frequently involves introducing a tiny video camera and specialized surgical equipment through four small incisions. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the term used by doctors to describe this procedure.

The gallbladder may sometimes be removed with a single, sizable incision. It is referred to as open cholecystectomy.

Why might you require Gallbladder Removal?

The most frequent reason for a cholecystectomy is to treat gallstones and the difficulties they bring on. Your doctor could suggest a cholecystectomy if you have:

  • Gallbladder gallstones (cholelithiasis)
  • Liver duct gallstones (choledocholithiasis)
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis)
  • Large polyps in the gallbladder
  • Gallstones cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas.

Risk Factors

Following a cholecystectomy, the following problems are possible:

  • Biliary leak
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to surrounding organs like the liver, small intestine, and bile duct
  • General anaesthetic risks, including blood clots and pneumonia

Your general health and the cause of your cholecystectomy will affect your risk factors in this surgery.


Medicines and food

Your doctor may advise you to do the following in order to get ready for a cholecystectomy.

  • Eat nothing the night before your surgery. While taking your meds, you are allowed to have a glass of water, but you must wait at least four hours before eating or drinking anything.
  • Stop using specific vitamins and drugs. Inform your doctor of all prescription drugs and dietary supplements you are taking. Most medications should continue to be taken as directed. As they may raise your risk of bleeding, your doctor may advise you to stop using a certain drug or supplement.

Personal items and clothing

The majority of cholecystectomy patients return home the same day, however, complications can occasionally necessitate spending one or more nights in the hospital. Think ahead to prepare for a possible hospital stay by bringing personal goods like a toothbrush, cosy clothes, and reading material.

Other safety measures

Find a companion to accompany you and drive you home. The first night after surgery, ask a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you.

Before the Procedure

You will not be conscious throughout a cholecystectomy because general anaesthetic is used to perform the surgery. You receive anaesthesia through a vein in your arm. Your medical team will put a tube down your neck to assist you to breathe once the medications start working. The cholecystectomy is subsequently carried out by your doctor, either by a laparoscopic or open procedure.

During the Procedure

Your doctor will advise one of two surgical strategies based on your circumstance:

Minimally invasive cholecystectomy (laparoscopic)

Your abdomen is incised four times by the surgeon during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A tube with a tiny video camera is placed into your abdomen through one of the incisions. Your surgeon removes your gallbladder using surgical instruments placed through additional abdominal incisions while keeping an eye on a video monitor in the operating room.

Next, you could have an imaging test like an X-ray or ultrasound if your surgeon believes you have gallstones or other problems with your bile duct. You are then brought to a recovery area once your incisions have been sutured. In one to two hours, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is performed.

Rarely, your surgeon may begin with a laparoscopic method and ultimately need to make a larger incision because of issues or scar tissue from previous operations.

The conventional cholecystectomy

The physician creates a 6-inch (15-centimetre) incision in your belly on the right side, beneath your ribs, during an open cholecystectomy. The muscle and tissue are peeled back, revealing your liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder is then removed by your surgeon.

After the incision is stitched up, you are sent to a recovery area. In one to two hours, an open cholecystectomy is performed.

After the Procedure

As the anaesthetic drugs wear off, you will be transferred to a recovery area. After that, you will be sent to a hospital room to complete your recovery. Depending on your operation, recovery varies:

Cholecystectomy through laparoscopy. Though occasionally a one-night hospital stay is necessary, patients are frequently able to leave the hospital on the same day as their procedure. In general, you can anticipate going home once you can eat, drink, and walk without assistance. A week is needed to recuperate completely.

Cholecystectomy in the open. Expect to recover in the hospital for two or three days. To fully heal after returning home, it can take four to six weeks.


Gallstones can cause pain and suffering, which can be eased by a cholecystectomy. Gallstones typically can not be prevented from repeating through dietary changes, for example. Gallstones are often prevented from returning via cholecystectomy.

The majority of patients who have cholecystectomy will not experience digestive issues. Normal digestion is not dependent on the gallbladder. Some individuals may occasionally experience loose stools following surgery, although this normally goes away with time. After your procedure, talk to your doctor about any changes in your bowel habits or new symptoms.

Depending on the technique your surgeon chooses and your general health, the length of time it takes for you to resume your regular activities after a cholecystectomy will vary. After laparoscopic cholecystectomy, some patients may be able to resume their jobs within a few days. After an open cholecystectomy, patients may require up to a week to fully recuperate.

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Page last reviewed: Mar 14, 2023

Next review due: Mar 14, 2025

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