Gallbladder Surgery

(Formally known as Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy)

How is the gallbladder removed?

The most common method of Gallbladder removal is with laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. A small cut is made under the umbilicus (belly button). Through this a camera is placed, and gas is instilled. Two to three other small cuts are placed in the upper abdomen, through which instruments are introduced to dissect free the Gallbladder. If there is concern about the possibility of Gallstones in the bile duct, an x-ray (Cholangiogram) will be performed through the Gallbladder (cystic) duct.

The cystic duct and cystic artery are then clipped with permanent titanium clips. These do not cause any long term problems. The Gallbladder is then removed from its attachment to the liver. A drain (plastic tube) is sometimes left overnight to ensure that no fluid (blood or bile) collects in the abdomen.

post operative Care

Following Gallbladder Surgery, post operative care is different for each person. Most patients stay one night in hospital. If there is a drain it will generally be removed the morning after surgery, just prior to discharge.

Sutures are dissolving and buried, waterproof dressings can stay on for 7 days. A follow-up appointment is made for 3 weeks after surgery. You may eat and drink normally after a day or two, although very rich foods are not recommended in the first week.

What are the potential complications of Gallbladder Surgery?

Serious complications after Gallbladder Surgery are rare. They can include, but are not limited to, the following:

Bile duct injury
There is a small risk of injuring a major bile duct draining out of the liver. This injury occurs in around 1 in 300 cases. It may be recognised at the time of the surgery or in the days that follow. Injury to a major bile duct frequently requires further procedures to diagnose and repair it.

Bile leak
Bile leak after the surgery can be from a major duct or a minor one. It occurs around 1 in 100 cases, and sometimes requires other procedures to dry it up. It rarely requires further surgery.

Retained stone
Sometimes there is an unsuspected stone in the main bile duct that presents in the days or weeks following Gallbladder Surgery with pain, and/or jaundice. These require a day stay procedure (ERCP) to remove them.

Other potential complications may include wound infection, clots, allergic reactions or heart troubles.

Gallbladder Surgery FAQs

Will I be able to eat normally afterwards?
Yes, most patients will tolerate a normal diet afterwards, and there are no restrictions.

Can't you just remove the Gallstones?
No, removing the stones would be more dangerous than removing the whole Gallbladder and methods to dissolve them or blast them make the serious complications more likely. In addition, new stones would form, and often the mucosa (lining) and wall of the Gallbladder are chronically damaged by the presence of Gallstones.

Don't I need my Gallbladder?
No, the Gallbladder is largely redundant, and the bile ducts will store all the bile necessary for healthy function.


CLICK HERE for information about Gallbladder Disease.