UW Health surgeons at UW Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin, perform a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a minimally invasive surgery to remove the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small organ that sits underneath the liver. The liver produces bile, which the gall bladder stores and then releases into the small intestine to aid in the digestion of fats. However, the gallbladder is a non-essential organ and its removal has minimal to no effect on a healthy person. A gallbladder can be removed for a number of reasons, including pain from gallstones, cholecystitis - inflammation of the gallbladder from gallstones - gallbladder cancer and gallstone pancreatitis (a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed from gallstones blocking the draining ducts).
Post-operation, the liver will continue to produce bile, but instead of being stored in the gallbladder it will release it directly into the small intestine. In the majority of cases, this has no effect on digestion.
The surgery is performed using a laparoscope (a small, lighted camera that can see inside the body) and other small instruments that are inserted through a few small incisions in the abdomen, rather than a single, large, open incision. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the surgeon will carefully separate the gallbladder from its attachments and remove it through one of the small incisions. Additionally, surgeons will remove all gallstones that have made their way through the bile ducts. Finally, the surgeon will suture or stitch the small incisions closed.
The Difference of Minimally Invasive
There are numerous benefits to having this procedure performed laparoscopically rather than with the traditional open method:
- Faster recovery, patient may return home the same day or the day after the surgery, and return to normal activities after seven to 10 days. Open procedures require two to four days longer in the hospital and four to six weeks of recovery time before returning to normal activities.
- Less pain post-operatively, minimally invasive procedures will leave patients sore for about one week, compared to open procedures which leave patients sore for two to three weeks.
- Fewer post-operative complications
- Cosmetic appeal, rather than one long incision across the abdomen, small, barely visible incisions are placed in or below the navel and on the sides of the abdomen