Gallbladder Removal

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy – Gallbladder Removal

The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped pouch situated under the liver in the upper right part of the abdomen. It stores bile, a liquid produced by the liver, which it then releases into the intestine to help digestion.

The gallbladder may need to be removed to treat gallstones. The operation is usually done using keyhole surgery, a procedure known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy (co-lee-sist-ek-tomy).

Why have your gallbladder removed?

Gallstones are small, hard stones, which can sometimes develop in the gallbladder. They can result in a blockage of the flow of bile out of the gallbladder and symptoms that can include pain, jaundice (yellowed skin), and fever.

The body can function well without a gallbladder and removing it is a common treatment for gallstones that are causing symptoms.

Most gallbladder surgery is performed laparoscopically, but a small number of people need open surgery through a 12-20cm (5-8 inch) cut in the abdomen.

What are the alternatives?

If symptoms are mild, or surgery is not possible for medical reasons, there may be alternatives to having a laparoscopic cholecystectomy to remove gallstones.

  • Medicines can sometimes be used to dissolve the gallstones, but this does not work for everyone and can take up to two years or longer.
  • If the gallstones are blocking the bile ducts, it may be possible to view them using an endoscope (a narrow tube that is passed down the throat) rather than open surgery. This is known as an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography). Gallstones can sometimes be removed by enlarging the bile duct and removing the stones with special tools attached to the endoscope.
  • Another type of non-surgical treatment breaks up the stones using ultrasound waves (lithotripsy). This is only suitable when a small number of stones is present. Lithotripsy is an uncommon treatment option.

At Advanced Surgical Associates, we are committed to identifying the most appropriate treatment method for treating your gallstones, including the daVinci robotic procedure pioneered by Dr. Huy Nguyen.