Thyroid, Parathyroid and General Surgeon James Kirkby-Bott
From Consultant Surgeon Mr James Kirkby-Bott

More Information about Gallbladder Issues

What is Gallbladder Surgery?

Surgery to remove the gallbladder containing gallstones. It is performed under general anaesthetic (so you are asleep) using a keyhole (laparoscopic) technique.
It is a day case operation.
It takes about 2 weeks to get back to normal after surgery.
  • Gallbladder surgery is recommended to prevent further attacks of symptoms such as pain, remove infection and an infected gallbladder or prevent a recurrence of complications due to gallstones such as pancreatitis or jaundice. Just removing the gallstones and leaving the gallbladder would lead to abnormal gallbladder contraction and further new stones forming. To remove stones and prevent new stones forming you need to remove the whole gallbladder.
  • Taking out a gallbladder is known as cholecystectomy. Doing keyhole surgery is termed laparoscopic. So I recommend a laparoscopic cholecystectomy as the surgical treatment of gallstones. There are no drug dissolving remedies or medical treatments. Your choices are best described as doing nothing and taking a risk of recurrent disease or new complications or having your gallbladder removed.
  • If you have had a complication of stones getting into the common bile duct and you are too frail or unwell to have the type of general anaesthetic needing to perform this surgery then an ERCP (camera test under sedation) can clear the bile duct and reduce the risk of bile duct stone disease. In fit patients with a long lifetime ahead I wouldn't recommend this as a definitive procedure.

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How is gallbladder surgery carried out?

Keyhole surgery is successful in over 98% of cases. When not possible an open surgery removal (longer scar under ribs) is needed. In the few that cannot be completed using keyhole it is often known pre-operation that this risk is high and you would be informed of this heightened risk before undergoing surgery.
Keyhole surgery involves using a camera and video screen with long slim instruments used in place of a 'hand' inside the body. This means incisions in the tummy wall are small each approx 5-12mm in size.

No surgery is without some risks attached. See information about risks of gallbladder surgery.

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FAQ about Gallbladder Surgery

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