The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that rests beneath the right side of the liver. Its main purpose is to collect and concentrate a digestive liquid called bile which is produced by the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder after eating to aid digestion as it travels through narrow tubular channels, bile ducts, into the small intestine.
Sometimes the gallbladder can malfunction and cause small stone-like particles to form called gallstones; other times the gallbladder becomes diseased and requires complete removal.
The surgical procedure used to remove gallstones and the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy.
Types of Cholecystectomy
Many people with gallstones or a diseased gallbladder have surgery to remove it. Both procedures are performed using general anesthesia. After gallstones or the gallbladder have been removed, the incision(s) is closed with absorbable stitches, surgical tape, or glue. There are two procedures that can be performed depending on the situation:
- Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy is the most common procedure for removal of gallstones or the gallbladder. During this procedure, Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, or Dr. Long B. Nguyen, will make four small incisions in the abdomen where instruments, a light, and a camera are used to view the inside of the body on a video monitor. If Gallstones are in the bile ducts, Therapeutic ERCP may be used to find and remove them before or during gallbladder surgery.
- Open Cholecystectomy: The decision to perform open cholecystectomy is made either before or during the actual operation and strictly based on patient safety. Open cholecystectomy requires a five to seven-inch incision in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder.
- Regardless of which procedure has been recommended, there are important steps you can take to prepare for and participate in the procedure.
- Provide a complete list of all the medicines you are taking — including any over-the-counter medications and natural supplements — and any allergies to drugs or other substances.
- Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin Parikh, or Dr. Long B. Nguyen will also want to know if you have a heart, lung or other medical condition that may need special attention before, during, or after a Cholecystectomy.
- Drugs such as blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications (arthritis medications), and Vitamin E may need to be stopped temporarily for several days to a week prior to surgery.
- Patients are given instructions in advance that outlines what they should and should not do to prepare for a Cholecystectomy.
- After midnight the night before the operation, you should not eat or drink anything. You may take medications that your surgeon has told you are permissible to take with a sip of water the morning of surgery.
- It is recommended that you shower the night before or morning of the operation. Your surgeon may also want you to use an antibiotic soap.
- Do not shave your abdomen before surgery.
- You will be asked to sign a form, which verifies that you consent to have the procedure and that you understand what is involved. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for more information.
Aftercare and Recovery
Most patients who have a laparoscopic gallbladder removal, go home from the hospital the day of surgery and return to work within seven days depending on the nature of their job. People with administrative or desk jobs usually return in a few days while those involved in manual labor or heavy lifting may require a bit more time. Patients undergoing the Open procedure usually remain in the hospital overnight and resume normal activities in four to six weeks. In general, recovery should be progressive, once the patient is at home.
Board-Certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin J. Parikh, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Dr. Ruth Montalvo, and providers Tammi D’Elena, PA-C and Vanessa T. Bridgeman, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC; care for patients in the North Atlanta, GA; area including Johns Creek, GA, Cumming, GA, Lawrenceville, GA, Alpharetta, GA, and Dawsonville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from gastrointestinal problems, abdominal pain, or need a colorectal cancer screening, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.