General Abdominal

Gallbladder Removal

Gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy)

Until 1990, gallbladder removals (or cholecystectomies) were performed through traditional "open" surgery, which requires a large incision. Today, new technologies enable surgeons to perform a cholecystectomy using a minimally invasive approach (with smaller incisions), which may result in less pain and scarring, as well as faster recovery. This means you can return to normal activities sooner.20 To remove your gallbladder, doctors have two options:

In an open cholecystectomy, the surgeon:

  • Makes a 5- to 8-inch incision through skin, muscle, and protective tissue below your ribs on your right side.
  • Pulls back the muscle and tissue to reveal your liver and gallbladder.
  • Isolates and removes the gallbladder.
  • Closes the incision with sutures or surgical staples.

In a minimally invasive procedure for cholecystectomy, the surgeon:

  • Makes several ¾-inch incisions instead of one larger incision.
  • Inflates your abdomen with air or carbon dioxide.
  • Inserts a miniature camera called a laparoscope into your abdomen through one of the incisions, and watches the images on a video monitor.
  • Uses advanced, long-handled instruments inserted through the other incisions to detach and remove your gallbladder.
  • Closes each small incision with sutures.
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