What is cholecystectomy?

A cholecystectomy is a procedure in which the gallbladder is removed. The surgeon may recommend the procedure if you experience painful symptoms associated with gallstones, or other complications arising from gallstone disease.

Why is it performed?

The most common reason for a cholecystectomy to be performed is for the treatment of gallstones. Gallstones can occur in the gallbladder and bile duct, and can also cause inflammation in the gallbladder and pancreas.

How does it work?

A cholecystectomy is performed under general anaesthetic, and generally takes between one and two hours to complete. The procedure can be performed in two ways:

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy

During this type of procedure, the surgeon will make several small incisions in the abdomen, through which a laparoscope is inserted. The surgeon will use the images transmitted by the camera to guide the surgical tools in removing the gallbladder. Once the gallbladder has been removed, the incisions are stitched closed. It is likely that you will be able to go home a few hours after the surgery or the next day, and full recovery may take up to a week.

Open cholecystectomy

During traditional open surgery, the surgeon will make a larger incision in the abdomen. This will allow him access to the liver and gallbladder. Once the organ has been removed, the incision is stitched closed. You may be required to stay in hospital for two or three days after undergoing open surgery, and full recovery may take up to six weeks. Open cholecystectomy is most commonly performed when laparoscopy is not possible or if it is not safe to continue during laparoscopic surgery.