First Time User? Sign Up Now
First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Health Library > Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal Surgery for Gallstones
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (cholecystectomy) removes the gallbladder and gallstones through several small cuts (incisions) in the belly. The surgeon inflates your belly with air or carbon dioxide in order to see clearly.
The surgeon inserts a lighted scope attached to a video camera (laparoscope) into one incision near the belly button. The surgeon then uses a video monitor as a guide while inserting surgical tools into the other incisions to remove your gallbladder.
Before the surgeon removes the gallbladder, you may have a special X-ray procedure called intraoperative cholangiography. It shows the anatomy of the bile ducts.
The surgery usually takes 2 hours or less. You will need general anesthesia.
After surgery, bile flows from the liver (where it is made) through the common bile duct. It then flows into the small intestine. Without a gallbladder, the body can no longer store bile between meals. In most people, this has little or no effect on digestion.
In 5 to 10 out of 100 laparoscopic gallbladder surgeries in the United States, the surgeon needs to switch to an open surgery that requires a larger incision.footnote 1 This can happen when there are problems such as unexpected inflammation, scar tissue, injury, and bleeding.
You may have gallbladder surgery as an outpatient, or you may stay 1 or 2 days in the hospital.
Most people can return to their normal activities in 7 to 10 days. People who have laparoscopic gallbladder surgery are sore for about a week. But in 2 to 3 weeks they have much less discomfort than people who have open surgery. No special diets or other precautions are needed after surgery.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the best method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms, unless there is a reason that the surgery should not be done.
This surgery is used most often when no factors are present that may complicate the surgery.
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is safe and effective. Surgery gets rid of gallstones located in the gallbladder. It does not remove stones in the common bile duct. Gallstones can form in the common bile duct years after the gallbladder is removed. But this is rare.
The overall risk of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is very low. The most serious possible complications include:
Other uncommon complications may include:
More surgery may be needed to repair these complications.
After gallbladder surgery, some people keep having belly symptoms, such as pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea (postcholecystectomy syndrome).
Glasgow RE, Mulvihill SJ (2010). Treatment of gallstone disease. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1121–1138. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Current as of:
April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineArvydas D. Vanagunas MD - Gastroenterology
Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Arvydas D. Vanagunas MD - Gastroenterology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
2076 NC Highway 42 W.
Johnston Professional Plaza, Suite 210
Clayton, NC 27520
North Carolina Surgery2800 Blue Ridge Road, Suite 300Raleigh, NC 27607 919-784-7874 T 919-784-2708 F
Chosen for Excellence
Copyright 2021 UNC Health Care. All rights reserved.