Gallbladder Surgery or Cholecystectomy
Gallbladder surgery, also known as cholecystectomy, involves the removal of the gallbladder from the body. It is one of the most common procedures performed in the United States and represents a simple, curative option for various forms of gallbladder disease – most commonly symptomatic gallstones. Gallbladder surgery is almost always performed in a minimally invasive manner. This means that four or five small incisions are made in the abdomen versus a large single incision in open surgery.
How a Cholecystectomy Works
Once the patient is prepped for surgery, they will be put under general anesthesia for the procedure. Four small incisions are made in the abdomen, the largest of which is made in the umbilicus or belly button. Specially made laparoscopic tools including a high definition camera allows Dr. Shawn Tsuda or Dr. Heidi Ryan to carefully separate the gallbladder from the liver. The blood and bile duct vessels coming from the gallbladder are then clamped with permanent titanium clips.
Once the vessels are clamped and sealed, the gallbladder is separated from its associated structures, placed in a surgical bag, and removed through the incision in the bellybutton.
Recovery and Aftercare
The entire gallbladder removal procedure takes about 35-to-45 minutes and is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients can return home the day of surgery. After surgery, patients will be transferred to the recovery area where they will wake up from the general anesthesia. The entire recovery process takes about two-to-three hours. Once the patient can ambulate and urinate, they are typically discharged with post-op instructions.
The gallbladder is then sent off to pathology to ensure that there is no trace of cancer or other abnormalities of the organ.
Once home, dietary and exercise restrictions are minimal. Patients may experience some constipation due to the general anesthesia and any narcotic pain medication they may be taking. Patients are encouraged to start walking right away, within the bounds of their abilities to ward off the potential for blood clots or deep vein thrombosis. At around two weeks, patients will follow up with their surgeon to evaluate the recovery process.