Gallbladder removal is almost always done using keyhole surgery. This means you’ll only spend one night in hospital and recovery tends to be faster.
My doctor said my gallbladder must be removed. Now what?
Gallbladder removal is almost always done using keyhole surgery. This means you’ll only spend one night in hospital and recovery tends to be faster. You can usually return to work within 10 to 14 days after having your operation and you’ll be back to full physical activity within 3 to 4 weeks.
But don’t I need my gallbladder?
Short answer. No. While you can’t live without your liver, you can without your gallbladder. To understand this, let’s talk about what exactly it does. The only function of the gallbladder is to store and concentrate your bile and to act as a reservoir. So when you have a meal, hormones are secreted from the gut which tells the gallbladder to contract, providing a boost of bile necessary for fat absorption. After your gallbladder is removed, the liver will continue to produce 1.5 litres of bile a day, as it always had, only now your bile will be stored in the bile ducts, ready to be squirted into the gut when you need it.
I only have gallstones so why remove my entire gallbladder?
Gallstones differ from kidney stones. Obviously, when removing kidney stones your kidneys are left behind because they’re a vital organ, whereas your gallbladder isn’t. A healthy gallbladder is able to keep bile salts in suspension. When it stops working properly, gallstones form. These gallstones can cause irritation and infection in your gallbladder. Removing them wouldn’t mean they’d go away, in fact, they’d just re-form in about 3 months.
How is the surgery done?
You’ll be under a full anesthetic. Your surgeon will carefully place 4 thin pipes with a seal on the outside, known as ports, through your abdominal wall. Your abdomen is inflated and a laparoscope is inserted through one of these ports. Inflating the abdomen creates working space. The picture from the camera is relayed to a large high-definition TV-screen, which allows your surgeon to effectively navigate your abdominal cavity with long instruments that are passed through the other ports. After clearly identifying all the important structures, the small artery running to the gallbladder, as well as the little duct connecting it to the big bile duct from the liver are clipped and cut. Now that your gallbladder has been detached from arteries and ducts, it’s loosened from the liver and removed through one of the small holes created by the port placement. Once removed, a careful inspection is done to make sure all is in order. The ports are removed and the skin sutured.