Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy, or removal of the gallbladder, is done for any of the following reasons.
- Gallstones/ sludge related symptoms
- Non-functioning gallbladder
- Gallbladder polyps > 10mm
Gallbladder removal is a common operation and is usually performed laparoscopically (keyhole). However, like most surgeries, it carries risks.
The risks are listed below:
- During surgery
- Bleeding from vessels close to the gallbladder or from the liver.
- Conversion to open – removing the gallbladder through a large cut on the right side of the abdomen due to difficulty identifying the anatomy and when it is not safe to continue performing the surgery laparoscopically.
- Damage to the bile duct which is uncommon and may require multiple surgeries.
- Anaesthetic risks – damage to teeth, anaphylaxis from the medication, stroke or heart attack
- After surgery – short term
- Shoulder tip pain from the gas trapped under the diaphragm
- Discomfort from a surgical drain placed at the time of the surgery.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Leakage of bile from the bile duct
- Blood clots in the calf muscle in the leg or lung
- Seroma at the site of the incision
- After surgery – long term
- Scar formation
- Adhesions -rare after keyhole surgery.
- Persistent diarrhoea
- Intolerance to certain foods
Most patients are usually discharged the day after surgery.
Post operative instructions are as follows:
- Patients are discharged with analgesia such as paracetamol and Palexia
- The dressings are changed prior to discharge, and patients will be advised to remove the new dressings in 3 days at home.
- The dressings are waterproof, and patients can have showers with the dressings. There will be a little blood-stained fluid under the dressings, just rinse it off in the shower and dab dry with a clean towel. The sutures are buried under the skin, and they dissolve by themselves. Occasionally the edges of the sutures may stick out for a few weeks.
- A follow up appointment will be made in 6 weeks.
- There are no restrictions on diet. Just listen to your body to tell you when you are ready for spicy or fatty foods. Alcohol (in moderation) is permitted. However, most people have some intolerance to fatty food and may get “phantom” pain on the right side of the abdomen for a few days.
- It is recommended that you have 7-14 days off work and no heavy lifting (more than a chair) for 4 weeks. You should avoid rigorous, competitive sport for 4-6 weeks.
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- You may drive when you are no longer taking pain medicine and can quickly move your foot from the gas pedal to the brake. You must also be able to sit comfortably for a long period of time, even if you do not plan to go far.