How Long Does It Take To Recover From Gallbladder Surgery
Your recovery time will depend on which procedure you had.
- Laparoscopic: Most people can leave the hospital on the same day or the day after the operation. If you leave that day, have someone stay with you for at least 24 hours as you may still be feeling the effects of the anesthesia. Youll likely be able to return to your normal activities in about two weeks.
- Open: Usually youll have to stay in the hospital for three to five days afterwards. Recovery takes about six to eight weeks.
What Complications Can Occur If Cholecystitis Is Not Treated
Complications can range from ongoing infection to possible death.
- Severely Infected gallbladder: A blocked gallbladder that is extremely uncomfortable and painful. Without treatment, it could lead to an overwhelming infection, or even gangrene of the gallbladder.
- Cholangitis: An acute infection of the main bile ducts and liver that can be extremely life-threating if not promptly treated.
- Inflamed pancreas : Your common bile duct and the pancreatic duct share the same valve into the duodenum. If a gallstone blocks that valve, the potent pancreatic enzyme juice excreted by the pancreases gets backed up causing pancreatitis, which can also be severe and life threatening.
What Happens During A Cholecystectomy
You may have a cholecystectomy as an outpatient or as part of your stay in a hospital. The way the surgery is done may vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.
A cholecystectomy is generally done while you are given medicines to put you into a deep sleep .
Generally, a cholecystectomy follows this process:
You will be asked to take off any jewelry or other objects that might interfere during surgery.
You will be asked to remove clothing and be given a gown to wear.
An intravenous line will be put in your arm or hand.
You will be placed on your back on the operating table. The anesthesia will be started.
A tube will be put down your throat to help you breathe. The anesthesiologist will check your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and blood oxygen level during the surgery.
If there is a lot of hair at the surgical site, it may be clipped off.
The skin over the surgical site will be cleaned with a sterile solution.
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What Can I Expect After The Procedure
You will be monitored in recovery for some time and will normally be able to go home within 24 hours. You may have some side effects from the general anaesthetic such as a headache, nausea or vomiting, which can be controlled with medicine.
You will have some pain in your abdomen after the operation, which can be controlled using pain relief. You may also have some pain in your shoulder from the gas used in the operation, which can be eased with walking.
You will have a drip in your arm at first, which will be removed after the anaesthetic wears off. You can take sips of water at first then slowly get back to eating and drinking normally.
Your wounds will have clips or stitches and you may also have a drain in your side to allow fluid to leave your body. This is usually removed the next day. Make sure you keep your wounds clean.
You will be tired at first. Do not drive for the first 7 days, smoke or lift heavy weights. You can expect to recover fully and return to your normal activities within 2 weeks.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have:
- a lot of discharge from the wounds
- pain that can’t be controlled by pain relief medicine
- swelling, tenderness or redness in the abdomen
- yellow eyes or skin
How Is Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal Done
You will have general anesthesia for your laparoscopic gallbladder removal. This means you are asleep during surgery. When surgery is finished, the surgeon closes your incisions with tiny stitches, staples, surgical tape or glue. These disappear as you heal, so the doctor does not need to remove them later.
Once you are asleep, the surgeon makes an incision near your belly button and inserts a small device called a port. The port creates an opening that your surgeon can use to fill the abdomen with gas. This creates space to do the operation. Next, they insert a small camera through the port. The camera shows the surgery on a screen in the operating room. Once the surgeon can see clearly, they put in more ports to insert long, narrow instruments. Finally, they gently disconnect your gallbladder and take it out through one of the incisions. Most operations need 3 or 4 incisions, but some have more.
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Will I Need A Follow Up Appointment After The Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Operation
Yes you will be seen approximately one week after the operation by A/Prof Bartlett to assess your recovery, discuss any concerns that you may have and to review the pathology of the gall bladder. However, if you have any concerns or problems, prior to this appointment please contact A/Prof Bartlett or his rooms to make an appointment. If you are acutely unwell, then you need to go to the hospital emergency department, and leave a message with A/Prof Bartlett or his rooms.
Who Shouldnt Have This Type Of Surgery
Laparoscopic surgery isnt the best choice for everyone. An open surgery may be better if you:
- Had surgery around your gallbladder before
- Tend to bleed a lot
- Have any problem that would make it hard for your doctor to see your gallbladder
Your doctor will decide which type of surgery is appropriate for you.
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What Are The Alternatives To Gallbladder Removal
If you have gallstones but they arent causing any symptoms, or surgery to remove them isnt suitable for you, there may be alternative treatments. Sometimes gallstones can be dissolved using medicines, however gallstones often come back after this type of treatment and it is therefore rarely used.
If gallstones are in your bile duct and not in your gallbladder, they can be removed during ERCP. An endoscope, which is guided using X-rays, is passed into your mouth and down to your bile duct. Special instruments can also be inserted inside the endoscope to allow your surgeon to remove the gallstones from your bile duct. ERCP can only be used to remove gallstones if they are found in your bile ducts. If gallstones are in your gallbladder itself, you may need gallbladder surgery as well. Your surgeon will discuss any possible alternative treatments with you.
Types Of Gallbladder Surgery
Doctors can remove your gallbladder in one of two ways:
Open surgery: During this procedure, your surgeon will make a 5- to 7-inch incision on your belly to take out your gallbladder. Youâll need open surgery if you have a bleeding disorder. You may also need it if you have severe gallbladder disease, are very overweight, or are in your last trimester of pregnancy.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: Doctors also call this âkeyhole surgery.â Your surgeon doesnât make a big opening in your belly. Instead, they make four small cuts. They insert a very thin, flexible tube that contains a light and a tiny video camera into your belly. These help your surgeon see your gallbladder better. Next, theyâll insert special tools to remove the diseased organ.
For both types of surgery, youâll be given general anesthesia. This means youâll sleep through the procedure and wonât feel any pain while itâs being done.
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How Do Doctors Treat Gallbladder Problems
Taking the gallbladder out is usually the best way to treat gallbladder problems. You might get some relief from changing your diet. For example, eating less fat can help. But gallstones rarely go away on their own.
You might have heard about treatments to break up gallstones or make them melt away . Unfortunately, these do not usually work well.
Why Does My Doctor Want To Remove My Gallbladder
There are several reasons why a physician may consider suggesting gallbladder removal as the best treatment. If a patient is having gallstones regularly, chronic gallbladder inflammation may affect a patients way of life and a cholecystectomy would be recommended. This procedure is often used when there are stones in the gallbladder which are causing symptoms such as vomiting, pain, and sometimes even back pain and bloating.
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How Is Cholecystitis Diagnosed
Your healthcare professional will ask about your symptoms. They may order blood work to check your white blood cell count and how well your liver is working. A higher than normal white blood cell count is a sign of an infection, inflammation, or an abscess.
Imaging tests that could be ordered include:
What Is Recovery Like Following Gallbladder Surgery
Most patients are well enough to go home on the same day and this is actively encouraged as an uncomplicated procedure often means that recovery is more comfortable at home. In rare circumstances patients may have to stay overnight for pain control or due to the procedure being complicated or converted to open surgery.
It usually takes between one or two weeks to make a full recovery from keyhole surgery to remove your gallbladder, but this varies between individuals, so its important to follow your surgeons advice.
If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice. Your surgeon may give you painkillers when youre discharged from hospital.
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Commonly Asked Questions: During Your Hospital Stay
Will I have pain after my surgery?
Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If your pain isnt relieved, tell your doctor or nurse. Youll be given a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital.
Pain medication may cause constipation .
Why is it important to walk?
Walking will help prevent blood clots in your legs. It also decreases your risk of having other complications such as pneumonia.
Will I be able to eat?
Your doctor will let you know when you can start eating and drinking. This will depend on the time of your surgery and how you are feeling after it. Some people are able to drink small amounts of liquids the evening of the surgery. Most people are able to start eating the day after the surgery. When you are able to eat, you should start slowly and progress to your regular diet as tolerated.
Eating a balanced diet high in protein will help you heal after surgery. Your diet should include a healthy protein source at each meal, as well as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For more tips on increasing the amount of calories and protein in your diet, ask your nurse for the resource Eating Well During Your Cancer Treatment. If you have questions about your diet, ask to see a dietitian.
How long will I be in the hospital?
How To Prepare For Gallbladder Removal
Your surgeon will explain how to prepare for your gallbladder removal. For example, if you smoke, you will be asked to stop as smoking increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery.
Gallbladder removal using keyhole surgery is routinely done as a day-case procedure but you may also need to stay overnight in hospital. Gallbladder surgery is usually done under general anaesthesia. This means you will be asleep during your operation.
If youre having general anaesthetic, you will be asked to follow fasting instructions. This means not eating or drinking, typically for about six hours beforehand. However, its important to follow your surgeons advice.
At the hospital your nurse may check your heart rate, blood pressure and test your urine.
Your surgeon will discuss with you what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is your opportunity to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risks, benefits and any alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do by signing a consent form.
You may be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs. You may need to have an injection of an anticlotting medicine called heparin as well as, or instead of, wearing compression stockings.
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Why Does My Gallbladder Need To Be Removed
Surgery to remove the gallbladder is usually carried out if you have painful gallstones.
These are small stones that can form in the gallbladder as a result of an imbalance in the substances that make up bile.
Gallstones often cause no symptoms and you may not realise you have them, but occasionally they can block the flow of bile and irritate the gallbladder or pancreas .
This can cause symptoms such as:
- sudden and intense tummy pain
- feeling and being sick
- yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes
Surgery to remove the gallbladder is the most effective treatment in the vast majority of cases.
What Is A Gallbladder Removal
What is the Gallbladder?
The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ that acts as a storage tank for bile. The bile is made in the liver by liver cells and is sent through tiny ducts or canals to the duodenum and to the gallbladder. The gallbladder stores the bile to have it available in larger quantities for secretion when a meal is eaten. The ingestion of food and especially fats cause the release of a hormone, which in turn signals the relaxation of the valve at the end of the common bile duct which lets the bile enter the small intestine. It also signals the contraction of the gallbladder which squirts the concentrated liquid bile into the small intestine where it helps with the emulsification or breakdown of fats in the meal.
About Gallbladder Removal
You may need your gallbladder removed if:
- you have gallstones that are causing you pain caused by inflammation or infection of your gallbladder
- you have jaundice caused by a gallstone blocking your bile duct
- you have inflammation of the pancreas caused by gallstones
- you have cancer of your gallbladder
There are two surgical techniques used to remove the gallbladder.
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy your gallbladder is removed through small cuts in your abdomen , using a surgical technique called keyhole surgery.
- Open cholecystectomy your gallbladder is removed through one large cut in your abdomen, using a surgical technique called open surgery.
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What Is Your Gallbladder
The gallbladder is a small holding container for bile that drains from the liver. It is shaped like a pear and sits underneath the liver. What the gallbladder does is to store bile produced by the liver, usually 30 to 60 ml of bile), so it can be released in a large amount into the small intestine when you eat fatty foods. When fat reaches the small intestine, sensors in the lining of the small intestine trigger the release of a hormone called cholecystokinin. This hormone tells the gallbladder it is time to send bile to the small intestine to capture fat particles and cholesterol. Fatty acids and cholesterol are actually useful in your body when you are consuming the right amounts, and bile salts keep fat from “floating” to the top of your gut or the surface of the toilet bowl, sparing you diarrhea, really stinky flatulence, and bloating.
Digestion After Gallbladder Removal
The gallbladder aids digestion by storing and concentrating bile. Normally, bile flows from the liver into the gallbladder for storage. When you eat a meal, the gallbladder normally releases a pool of bile into the small intestine to begin digesting fat. But this job is not critical for digestion or good health.
Without the gallbladder, the liver still produces the bile necessary to digest fat in food. But instead of entering the intestine all at once with a meal, the bile continuously drains from the liver into the intestine. This means it may be harder and take longer for your body to digest fat.
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Where Is My Gallbladder
The gallbladder is located on the right side of a persons flank located just under the liver. The primary purpose of a gallbladder is bile storage. The liver will make bile, which helps break down foods and absorb fat. The gallbladder will store this extra bile that the liver makes and releases when fat is digested. A gallbladder is not necessary for healthy digestion but dietary restrictions apply. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal is performed using a narrow tube with a camera and is usually performed with small incisions. The physician will be able to see the gallbladder on a screen which means that recovery time is much quicker than traditional open gallbladder surgery.
Why The Procedure Is Performed
You may need this surgery if you have pain or other symptoms from gallstones. You may also need it if your gallbladder is not working normally.
Common symptoms may include:
- Indigestion, including bloating, heartburn, and gas
- Pain after eating, usually in the upper right or upper middle area of your belly
Most people have a quicker recovery and fewer problems with laparoscopic surgery than with open surgery.
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Stones In The Bile Ducts
An x-ray may be performed during surgery which shows up the bile ducts . Some stones may have moved from the gallbladder into the bile tubes. These can usually be removed at the time of surgery.
What can be done about it?
An endoscopic procedure may be needed to remove the stones at a later date, if they cannot be removed during the operation. This is referred to as an ERCP.