STEEPLECHASE CANCER CENTER
30 Rehill Avenue, Suite 3400
Somerville, NJ 08876
Phone: (908) 725-2400
Fax: (908) 927-8990
Monday - Friday
9:00am - 4:30pm
Your gallbladder stores bile, a fluid produced by your liver that breaks down fats in the foods you eat and helps your digestion. Usually bile moves smoothly from your gallbladder into your digestive system. But, sometimes the mixture of bile and other liquid chemicals in the gallbladder become unbalanced and some of the chemicals form gallstones. If gallstones form, they can block the flow of bile through ducts, leading to infections and diseases of the liver or to pancreatitis. The result is pain and possibly serious complications. If your doctor has recommended gallbladder surgery, tests have indicated that you have gallstones that are causing problems. Usually, those tests include ultrasound and blood tests.
Advances in medicine mean that gallbladder trouble does not necessarily mean a long incision and lengthy recovery. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy involves the use of a slender, telescope-like instrument that is inserted into a tiny incision in the abdomen to view the gallbladder. Surgical instruments are inserted through other tiny incisions and the gallbladder is removed through an incision in the navel. Risks and complications include excessive bleeding or infection. Rarely, stones may still develop in the common bile duct or the bile duct may be injured. Although uncommon, a neuroma, or painful spot, or numbness may develop around an incision.
You will be given an anesthetic and medications through an intravenous tube in your vein. Your abdomen will then be inflated with carbon dioxide, a harmless gas. This will help your doctor see and move inside your body. The gas will be removed at the end of the surgery.
During surgery, a special x-ray called a cholangiogram may be taken of your bile duct. The x-ray may reveal stones in the duct. Stones may be removed at that time or during a later procedure called an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
There are four incision sites on your abdomen, one of which is in your navel. A laparoscope is inserted through one. One end of the scope shines light inside your body. The other is attached to a tiny camera. The camera lets your doctor view your gallbladder. Your doctor inserts special instruments through the other incisions.
Tiny metal clips are used to close off the duct and blood vessel at the base of the gallbladder. These clips will stay in your body and are harmless. Your gallbladder is detached from your liver using an electrical current. The gallbladder is guided to the incision in your navel and emptied of its contents outside the body. Once emptied, your gallbladder resembles a deflated balloon and it can be slipped through the incision in your navel.
Although unusual, your doctor may feel it isn't safe to continue with a laparoscopic cholecystectomy once it has begun. In that case, your gallbladder will be removed using the more traditional surgical method, through a larger incision in your abdomen.
The entire procedure usually takes one hour.