Keyhole surgery is the gold standard but in some cases your surgeon may need to do open surgery instead.
- Keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery
Your surgeon makes several small punctures or incisions in your abdomen and inserts hollow tubes into the openings. Then they inflate your abdomen with gas to make it easier to see your internal organs before putting surgical tools, a light and video camera through the tubes.
Your surgeon removes your gallbladder, together with the gallstones and seals the incisions in your skin with stitches, surgical clips or glue. The procedure usually takes about an hour.
Sometimes, surgeons need to convert from the laparoscopic approach to an open surgery to complete the operation.
- Open surgery
Your surgeon may recommend open surgery from the outset, particularly if you have a lot of scar tissue from previous abdominal procedures. Emergency surgery for gallbladder removal is more likely to be done as an open procedure.
Your surgeon makes an incision about 15 centimetres long in the upper right side of your abdomen and cuts through the fat and muscle before removing your gallbladder and gallstones. They then staple or suture your skin closed. You may find that your surgeon has put a small drain to the outside of your abdomen, which will later be taken out by a nurse. The procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours.
- Keyhole or open, which is best?
With keyhole surgery, your recovery time is shorter generally because there’s less discomfort after your surgery and the cuts are smaller. The risk of complications in experienced hands is low and is no different between the two approaches.
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