A cholecystectomy, or laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is a frequently performed procedure more commonly known as gallbladder removal surgery. Although this procedure is relatively common, it doesn’t make it any less significant.
In most cases, doctors will spend significant time deliberation before proceeding with gallbladder removal. Although we technically don’t “need” our gallbladder for our bodies to function correctly, this procedure is somewhat invasive. There are also risks associated with performing a cholecystectomy. So, why would you need a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and what should you know about the procedure? Here’s everything you should know.
What is a Cholecystectomy?
Your gallbladder is located to the right of your abdomen beneath your liver. This small, pear-shaped organ serves the vital function of digesting bile released into the small intestine. When there is a chemical imbalance of this bile, your body will form something known as gallstones, which produce no symptoms and may even go undiagnosed.
When gallstones become painful, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin
- Sudden, sharp, and intense stomach pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Back pain in between shoulder blades
In this case, your doctor will order a gallbladder removal immediately.
There are two types of gallbladder removal surgery: laparoscopic and open cholecystectomies.
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: Your doctor will make four incisions into your abdomen. Then, a tiny camera is inserted to remove the gallbladder surgically.
- Open cholecystectomy: One large incision is made to remove the gallbladder surgically.
The surgery will be completed in both instances while you are under general anesthetic.
Though both procedures remove the gallbladder, more patients opt for a laparoscopic cholecystectomy instead of an open one. The laparoscopic procedure comes with significantly fewer risks and can produce better outcomes, and there’s less risk of infection and a lower rate of complications.
Why Would Someone Need a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy?
Although laparoscopic cholecystectomies are performed primarily to treat gallstones, there are numerous reasons you’d need one. Gallstones can negatively impact surrounding organs, affect the liver’s ability to cleanse, and lead to worse infections or diseases.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be performed if:
- The gallbladder is swollen or inflamed
- The pancreas becomes inflamed due to gallstones (pancreatitis)
- There are large polyps in the gallbladder
- There are gallstones in the bile duct or gallbladder itself
Though there are risks associated with gallbladder removal, living with gallstones proves more dangerous. These complications can increase the risk of cancer or more severe diseases. If gallstones progress and become painful, living with them significantly reduces your quality of life. If gallstones are not painful, your doctor may monitor them instead of jumping straight to surgery.
Cholecystectomy Recovery: What You Need to Know
With laparoscopic cholecystectomy, patients typically leave the hospital on the same day or the morning after, as opposed to open surgery. Recovery can take as little as two weeks, and most live an everyday life after gallbladder removal.
As you recover from your procedure, some risks to be aware of include:
- Infection of incision sight
- Bile leaking into the stomach
- Blood clots
- Damage to liver ducts carrying out bile
It’s a good idea to monitor your diet weeks before and after surgery. Simple, easy-to-digest foods are best during recovery. Diarrhea is a common side-effect for those recovering from gallbladder removal.
BASS Medical Group Can Help
BASS Medical Group is made up of the Bay Area’s leading experts in the medical field. We’ll work closely with you or your loved one to ensure the highest quality of care. If you suspect you may be struggling with gallstones, schedule an appointment with us immediately. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions at (925) 350-4044.