Cholecystectomy (open surgery)

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are ‘stones’ that form in your gallbladder (see figure 1). 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.

For some people gallstones can cause severe symptoms, with repeated attacks of abdominal pain being the most common.

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.

Cholecystectomy open surgery diagram

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 a cut on your upper abdomen and 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)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Developing a hernia in the scar
  • Blood clots

Specific complications

  • Leaking of bile or stones
  • Retained stones
  • Continued pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation of the lining of your abdomen
  • Chest infection
  • Bile duct injury
  • Allergic reaction
  • Bowel injury
  • Continued bowel paralysis
  • Serious damage to your liver
  • Tissues can join together in an abnormal way

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after two to four days.

You should be able to return to work after about 6 weeks, depending on how much surgery you need and your type of work.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

You should make a full recovery and be able to return to normal activities.

Summary

Gallstones are a common problem. An operation to remove your gallbladder should result in you being free of pain and able to eat a normal diet.

Self-pay guide price

From £7,500

 

Self-pay package details

Cholecystectomy (open surgery) is performed at The Foscote Hospital by

  • Mr Oliver Jones

    Mr Oliver Jones

    Consultant General & Colorectal Surgeon

    BM BCh MA DM FRCS

    Learn more
  • Mr Chris Lewis

    Mr Chris Lewis

    Consultant General Surgeon

    MB ChB MD FRCS

    Learn more
  • Bob Marshall general surgery

    Mr Bob Marshall

    Consultant General Surgeon

    MBBS MS FRCS

    Learn more

Acknowledgements

Author: Mr Simon Parsons DM FRCS (Gen. Surg.)

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com

This page is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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