Gallbladder removal is a very common procedure.
Your gallbladder isn’t a vital organ, so your body can function without it. Your liver will continue to produce bile, which helps you digest fats, but instead of being stored in your gallbladder, the bile will pass directly into your bowel. The vast majority of people having keyhole gallbladder removal are satisfied with their surgery and can return to a normal diet and lifestyle.
People who have keyhole surgery recover quicker from the operation compared to those who have an open procedure.
After surgery, a small number of people have ongoing symptoms. This has been called post cholecystectomy syndrome (although it isn’t a specific pathological condition) but rather symptoms that either persist in the post-operative period or are exacerbated by the operation. These symptoms may include:
- inflammation of the oesophagus
- diarrhoea/loose stools
- lower abdominal pain.
Your risk of developing these symptoms is highest if you:
- have emergency surgery
- had symptoms for a long time before surgery
- are aged under 30
- are female.
If the symptoms persist, further investigations and interventions may be required.
The risks of surgery, and the anaesthesia, are dramatically increased if you’re overweight or obese. Losing weight beforehand will lower your risk of complications.
There are a number of other possible complications associated with the surgery:
- Unsuspected gallstones blocking the bile duct - this may mean more surgery
- Wound infection - open surgery 8%, keyhole 1–4%
- Need for a stay in a nursing or rehab facility - open surgery 6%, keyhole 1%
- Urinary tract infection - open surgery 2%, keyhole 1%
- Pneumonia - 1%
- Heart problems - 1%
- Blood clot - 1%
- Kidney failure - 1%
- Pregnancy complications - if you have this surgery while you’re pregnant, there’s a 4% risk of losing the baby. If you also have pancreatitis (inflammation of your pancreas), your risk is increased.
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