The operation in detail

How is the gallbladder removed?

Gallbladder removal is usually undertaken laparoscopically (keyhole) but there are a minority of cases that need to be done as open procedures. An open procedure would only usually be necessary when the gallbladder is found to be very inflamed. With our surgeons over 99% of cases are successfully completed laparoscopically. The benefit of this is that you can usually go home the same day and expect a swift recovery. Most people are able to go back to work in 4 or 5 days assuming their work is not too strenuous.

The keyhole surgical technique normally requires the surgeon to make just 4 make small horizontal incisions in the abdomen through which the laparoscope (the source of light and camera) and instruments required to do the procedure are passed.

The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic and usually takes no more than 30-60 minutes in theatre. Due to this, we have an age restriction of 75 for our procedures.

During keyhole gallbladder removal surgery:

  • Your surgeon will make 3 or 4 small incisions by your belly button and pass a small tube through one of the incisions so that carbon dioxide can be pumped through to gently inflate your abdomen. This makes the job of the surgeon easier meaning there is more space making it easier to access your gallbladder.
  • A long, thin telescope with a camera and light at the tip (laparoscope) is then inserted through the larger incision, allowing your surgeon to see what he is doing on a monitor
  • Your gallbladder is removed by using special surgical instruments that are inserted through the other incisions
  • Once your gallbladder is safely removed, the gas is released from your abdomen and the incisions closed with stitches

During open gallbladder removal surgery:

In some cases, open surgery is required when the gallbladder is inflamed. Your surgeon will tell you if this is required and ask for your consent to carry out open surgery.

  • One larger incision is made (10 to 20cm) underneath your ribs
  • The inflamed gallbladder is removed using surgical instruments
  • The incision is closed with stitches and covered with a dressing

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