Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Gallstones are stones that form in the bile within the gallbladder. (The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ just below the liver that stores the bile secreted by the liver.) The majorities of people with gallstones have no signs or symptoms and are unaware of their gallstones. However, once symptoms develop, they are likely to continue and often will worsen.

The most common symptom of gallstones is biliary colic. Most commonly, biliary colic is felt in the middle of the upper abdomen just below the sternum or in the right upper abdomen just below the edge of the ribs. Usually, biliary colic comes on suddenly or builds rapidly to a peak over a few minutes. It is a constant pain, it does not come and go, though it may vary in intensity while it is present. Biliary colic often is accompanied by nausea.

Gallstones can cause severe inflammation or infection known as cholecystitis, blockage of the bile system resulting in jaundice or injury to the pancreas. 

Cholecystectomy (removal of the gallbladder surgically) is the standard treatment for gallstones in the gallbladder. Surgery may be done through a large abdominal incision or laparoscopically through small punctures of the abdominal wall. Laparoscopic surgery results in less pain and a faster recovery. Cholecystectomy has a low rate of complications, but serious complications such as damage to the bile ducts and leakage of bile occasionally occur. Problems following removal of the gallbladder are few. Digestion of food is not affected, and no change in diet is necessary. Chronic diarrhea occurs in approximately 10% of patients.

Laparoscopy uses a laparoscope (an instrument used to see the inside of your body) to remove the gallbladder. It is performed through several small incisions rather than through one large incision. A laparoscope is a small, thin tube that is put into your body through a tiny cut made just below your navel. Your surgeon can then see your gallbladder on a television screen and do the surgery with tools inserted in three other small cuts made in the right upper part of your abdomen. Your gallbladder is then taken out through one of the incisions. Surgery to remove the gallbladder with a laparoscope does not require that the muscles of your abdomen be cut, as they are in open surgery. The incision is much smaller, which makes recovery go quicker.

Complications may include bleeding, infection and injury to the duct (tube) that carries bile from your gallbladder to your stomach. Also, during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the intestines or major blood vessels may be injured when the instruments are inserted into the abdomen. All of these complications are rare.

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