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Laparoscopic (keyhole) cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the gallbladder, offering a shorter recovery time than standard surgery.

What happens during laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make several small incisions (cuts) in your abdomen (stomach). They will place surgical instruments, along with a tube connected to a light and camera (called a laparoscope) inside your abdomen to perform the operation. So your surgeon will have room to work your abdomen will be inflated with carbon dioxide.
Your surgeon will free up your gallbladder duct (cystic duct) and artery. They will then separate your gallbladder from your liver and remove it through one of the incisions.

After your operation

Once your operation is over, you’ll be taken to the recovery room where you will wake from the anaesthetic. Your wounds, blood pressure and pulse will be checked carefully.

You may have a drain in your abdomen to remove fluid. This will be removed before you leave hospital.

You may also have a drip (infusion) going into your arm. This will keep you hydrated until you are able to drink.

When you are stable and comfortable, a nurse will take you to your room.

Going home after laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Most people recover quickly from laparoscopic cholecystectomy. You may be able to go home the day of your surgery or stay just one night. You should arrange for someone to drive you home as the effects of anaesthesia can take a few hours to wear off.

You may have pain from your surgical wounds and your abdomen may feel bloated. This should ease after several days. Be sure and take any painkillers you have been given as prescribed. 

If your wounds were closed by removable stitches you will need to have them removed by the Practice Nurse at your GP’s office.

Avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for the first two weeks. Be sure and discuss any return to work with your surgeon.

What are the complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

As with any surgery there can be complications.

General complications of surgery:

Specific complications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy might include:

  • Damage to internal organs
  • Developing a hernia in the scar
  • Leaking of bile
  • Retained stones
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation of the abdomen

Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your surgeon?


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