Gallbladder Surgery

Who needs gallbladder surgery? 

Gallbladder surgery is recommended for patients with:

  • Gallstones causing symptoms (biliary colic)
  • Gallstones resulting in complications (e.g. cholecystitis, cholangitis, pancreatitis)
  • Gallbladder polyps larger than 10 mm
  • Biliary dyskinesia   

How is gallbladder surgery performed? 

Gallbladder surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, either through laparoscopic or open technique.  

Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery

Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery is the standard modern technique for removal of the gallbladder. Usually 4 small incisions are made in the abdomen. A laparoscope is inserted through an incision near the belly button. Carbon dioxide gas is blown into the abdominal cavity. Other surgical instruments are then inserted. The gallbladder is dissected free from nearby organs. An x-ray (cholangiogram) is performed to see whether any gallstones have passed out of the gallbladder into the bile duct. Clips are then used to close off the cystic duct and cystic artery and the gallbladder is detached from the liver. The gallbladder is removed in a plastic bag from the incision near the belly button. All instruments are removed and the carbon dioxide gas is allowed to escape. The incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures and covered with waterproof dressings. 

The procedure usually takes around 60 minutes. 

Open Gallbladder Surgery 

Open surgery involves removal of the gallbladder through a larger incision in the abdomen. It may be necessary in some patients with: 

  • Highly inflamed & scarred gallbladder 
  • Abnormal anatomy 
  • Extensive scar tissue (adhesions) due to previous surgery
  • Other problems that obscure the view of the gallbladdder 

​Open surgery is safe and effective. Conversion from laparoscopic to open surgery is not a complication of the procedure but rather done to protect the patient. 

What is the expected recovery after gallbladder surgery?  

The recovery is different for each person. Most people go home the morning after laparoscopic surgery and recover within 2 weeks. 

A follow-up appointment is arranged for 3 weeks after surgery. 

What are potential complications of gallbladder surgery?

All surgery has risks despite the highest standard of practice. The following possible complications are listed to inform not to alarm. There may be other complications that are not listed. 

  • Bile duct injury
  • Bile leak 
  • Bleeding
  • Injury to nearby organs 
  • Retained stone 
  • Wound infection
  • Post-cholecystectomy syndrome, including long-term diarrhoea 

Dr Mary Ling is highly experienced in both laparoscopic and open gallbladder surgery. Gallbladder surgery can be performed at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital, Gosford Private Hospital and Tuggerah Lakes Private Hospital on the Central Coast. If you have private insurance, Dr Ling participates in the 'No Gap' scheme for gallbladder surgery. 

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