Cholecystectomy: Risks and Complications You Cannot Overlook

The surgical elimination of the gallbladder is called a cholecystectomy. It would be considered a way of stopping cholecystitis. Cholecystitis is in inflammation of the gallbladder. This is usually caused by gallstones, and can cause an infection in the gallbladder. The gallbladder is where your body stores bile, which is a fluid produced in the liver to aid in digestion.

The diagnosis is made with physical examination, history and ultrasound. There are two surgical options for treating cholecystitis which are laparoscopic cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy.

Laparoscopic surgery is used more often because it is much less invasive then open surgery. It only requires several small surgical incisions into the abdomen and involves the insertion of ports and tubes for the surgery. The surgical instruments have a camera attached so that the surgeon can see what is being done. The abdominal cavity is manually expanded with carbon dioxide or air to allow space to work.

Open cholecystectomy is the traditional method of removing the gallbladder and consists of a large surgical incision 5 to 7 inches long. This is much more invasive and requires much longer recovery time in the hospital and at home. The hospital stay is extended to 2 to 3 days and has a much higher risk of infection.

Laparoscopic surgery is easier to recover from for many reasons, one being that they don’t cut through your abdominal muscles, which make rehabilitation much easier. It has considerably less pain involved and, cosmetically, is far more appealing. The hospital stay is much shorter and usually requires an outpatient stay, or a one day stay in the hospital.

One risk factor of laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which is not common, but can be extremely dangerous, is injury to the common bile duct. It is the connection between the liver and the gallbladder, and if it is injured it can leak bile. This is dangerous because it has digestive enzymes, and it can cause life-threatening infection.

Other rare risk factors of laparoscopic surgery include abdominal peritoneal adhesions, or gangrenous gallbladders. If there are obstructive visual problems during the laparoscopic procedure it will be converted to a standard open cholecystectomy.

Overall every surgical procedure carries risks of bleeding, pain and infection but the laparoscopic cholecystectomy has a much better recovery time and less pain. The risk factors are minuscule compared to the risk of infection, much more pain, and increased recovery time of the older more intrusive surgery, open cholecystectomy.