Mr. Kumar had been suffering from a pain in his abdomen that was intensifying with each passing day. Initially thinking it was indigestion, he tried some home remedies. However, the pain did not go away and he started feeling nauseous. When one night the pain became intolerable and was accompanied by spells of vomiting, he decided to visit a doctor. He was asked to undergo a few tests and abdominal ultrasound revealed stones in his gallbladder. The doctor advised immediate surgery. He said it was advisable to remove the infected gallbladder to avoid future complications. A panicked Mr Kumar was comforted by the doctor, saying that gallbladder surgery or Cholecystectomy was a simple procedure, and could be done laparoscopically, which meant he would be well enough to go home the next day and could go back to his normal life within a week!
What is Cholecystectomy?
It is a procedure/surgery to remove the Gallbladder. It is usually done to treat gallstones and the complications they may cause. A doctor may recommend a cholecystectomy if you have:
- Gallstones in the gallbladder
- Gallstones in the bile duct
- Gallbladder inflammation
- Large Polyps in the Gallbladder
- Pancreas inflammation or pancreatitis due to the presence of gallstones
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a procedure where small incisions are made to look into the abdomen and remove the gallbladder by using a camera and surgical tools. However, in some patients, one large incision is made in the belly to remove the gallbladder – this is called an open cholecystectomy. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy may not be suitable for all. A surgeon in some cases may start with a laparoscopic approach to remove the gall bladder but may later deem it necessary to make a larger incision due to the presence of scar tissue from a previous operation or other complications.
A cholecystectomy procedure may carry risks like:
- Leak of bile juice
- Bleeding in the adjoining areas
- Injury to the small intestine, liver and bile duct
- Risks of general anaesthesia, like blood clots and pneumonia
Complications may also depend on the overall health of a person and the reason for the cholecystectomy.
Recovery post surgery
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy – In a Lap Chole Procedure, most patients are discharged the same day they are operated on. Sometimes they make need to stay a night in the hospital. A patient is usually allowed to go home as soon as they are able to walk and eat or drink without pain. Complete recovery may take up to 7 days.
- Open cholecystectomy – The patient undergoing an open Cholecystectomy may need to spend 2-3 days in the hospital till recovery. It may take him/her 4-6 weeks to recover fully at home.
Results of a Cholecystectomy
A cholecystectomy helps to ease the discomfort and pain caused due to gallstones. Dietary-modifications cannot prevent the recurrence of gallstones as believed by many. Only a cholecystectomy/removal of the gallbladder can prevent gallstones from coming back. Some people experience loose stool following the procedure, which gets better with time.
How quickly one can resume normal activities following a cholecystectomy depends on the overall health condition of the patient and the procedure type selected by the surgeon. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy involves less pain and quicker recovery so the patient can return to work within a few days. Patients undergoing an open cholecystectomy may require a week or so to recover and get back to work.