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Cholecystectomy (removal of your gall bladder)

Know your options—a guide to minimally invasive procedures (MIP) for cholecystectomy

What is a cholecystectomy?

Cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder—a pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder collects and stores bile—a digestive fluid produced in your liver.

When is a cholecystectomy needed?

Cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile. Cholecystectomy is a common surgery and it carries only a small risk of complications. In most cases, you can go home the same day of your cholecystectomy.

Cholecystectomy is most commonly performed using a tiny video camera to see inside your abdomen and special surgical tools to remove the gallbladder. Doctors call this laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Know your options: MIP for a cholecystectomy

In gallbladder removal surgery, a surgeon makes a large incision (cut) in your belly to open it up and see the area. The surgeon then removes your gallbladder by reaching in through the incision and gently lifting it out. Surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (unconscious and unable to feel pain).

The surgeon will make a 5 to 7 inch incision in the upper right part of your belly, just below your ribs. The surgeon will cut the bile duct and blood vessels that lead to the gallbladder. Then your gallbladder will be removed.

Minimally invasive cholecystectomy is the standard of care for surgery to remove the gallbladder when it is inflamed, blocked or filled with gallstones. Demand for this form of surgery has escalated to the point where nearly 90 percent of all operations to remove the gall bladder are performed using MIP techniques. The laparoscope is put into your body through a tiny cut made just below your navel. Your doctor can then see your gallbladder on a TV screen and do the surgery with tools inserted in three other small cuts made in the right upper part of your abdomen. Your gallbladder is then taken out through one of the incisions.

How does MIP for a cholecystectomy work?

Side-by-side comparison
Open colon cholecystectomy Minimally invasive cholecystectomy
  • A large incision (cut) in belly to open it up and see the area.
  • Surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (unconscious and unable to feel pain).
  • A 5 to 7 inch incision is made in the upper right part of your belly, just below your ribs.
  • Recovery time is 7 to 10 days.
  • Hospital stay of several days
  • Some pain and discomfort
  • You may return to work more quickly and have less pain after surgery.
  • You may have a shorter hospital stay (you'll likely stay in the hospital only one night) and shorter recovery time.
  • Can be done without cutting the muscles of your abdomen.
  • Much smaller incision and the scars are much less noticeable
  • Less discomfort and pain after operation

Know the risks of cholecystectomy

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks that accompany open and laparoscopic colon surgery. This is why it is important to weigh the benefits of the surgery against the risks.

Complications are rare but may include bleeding, infection and injury to the duct (tube) that carries bile from your gallbladder to your stomach. Also, during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the intestines or major blood vessels may be injured when the instruments are inserted into the abdomen. Remember, all of these complications are rare.

Talk to your doctor

Patients interested in minimally invasive colon surgery for colon cancer should find a surgeon who is experienced in minimally invasive colon surgery. Following is a list of questions you should discuss with your surgeon to determine whether he/she is qualified to perform the procedure and if you are a likely candidate for this type of surgery.

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