Treatments and tests

Gallbladder surgery

human anatomy showing liver and gallbladder
The liver and gallbladder
  • Gallstones are stones that form in your gallbladder.
  • They are common and can run in families.
  • The risk of developing gallstones increases as you get older and if you eat a diet rich in fat.

Terms explained

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy – surgery to remove gallstones.

What are the benefits of Surgery?

You should be free of pain and able to eat a normal diet. Surgery should also prevent the serious complications that gallstones can cause.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

It is possible to dissolve the stones or even shatter them into small pieces but these techniques involve unpleasant drugs that have side effects and a high failure rate.

Antibiotics can be used to treat any infection of your gallbladder. Eating a diet low in fat may help to prevent attacks of pain.

However, these alternatives will not cure the condition and symptoms are likely to come back.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about an hour.

Your surgeon will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will insert surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation.

Your surgeon will free up your cystic duct and artery. They will separate your gallbladder from your liver and remove it.

What complications can happen?

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Scarring
  • Developing a hernia in the scar
  • Blood clots

Specific complications

  • Damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
  • Developing a hernia near one of the cuts
  • Surgical emphysema
  • Leaking of bile or stones
  • Retained stones
  • Continued pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation of the lining of your abdomen
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bile duct injury
  • Bowel injury
  • Serious damage to your liver
  • Tissues can join together in an abnormal way

Where to get help


Last reviewed: 17-12-2018
Acknowledgements
Patient Safety & Clinical Quality
EIDO Healthcare Australia

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