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Your Guide to Gallbladder Removal

Get your questions answered with our in-depth guide.

What is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of your gallbladder through several small incisions and a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a long, thin camera that allows your doctor to see the surgical area on the video screen while removing your gallbladder. Your doctor may recommend a laparoscopic cholecystectomy if you develop gallstones (cholelithiasis) that cause pain. 

The gallbladder is located in the upper right side of your abdomen under the liver. The pear-shaped gallbladder is a hollow sac that concentrates and stores bile produced by the liver. Bile moves from the gallbladder through the bile duct into the small intestine during digestion. A gallstone can move from the gallbladder and block a bile duct, causing irritation, pain and swelling of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) .

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a common but major surgery with serious risks and potential complications. You may have less invasive treatment options. Consider getting a second opinion about all of your treatment choices before having a laparoscopy.

Other procedures that may be performed

Your doctor may perform other procedures in addition to a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Other procedures may include:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) locates and removes a gallstone that is stuck in the bile duct. It involves using an endoscope to access the bile duct. An endoscope is a long, lighted camera that transmits pictures of the inside of your body to a video screen during surgery. Your doctor will pass the endoscope down your throat and through the stomach into the small intestine. Your doctor will remove the stone through the endoscope. 

  • Laparoscopic common bile duct stone extraction is another procedure used to locate and remove a gallstone that is stuck in the bile duct. It involves inserting surgical instruments through small abdominal incisions and remove the stone through the bile duct with a small basket or crush the stone.

  • Open surgery involves making a larger incision that allows your doctor to directly see and remove the gallbladder. It is possible that your doctor may decide after beginning a laparoscopic cholecystectomy that you require open surgery to complete your surgery. 

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Aug 31, 2016

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Biliary Tract Disorders, Gallbladder Disorders and Gallstone Pancreatitis. The American College of Gastroenterology.
  2. Cholecystectomy. American College of Surgeons.
  3. Gallstones. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).
  4. Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases, University of Southern California.
  5. Pile, JC. Evaluating postoperative fever: A focused approach. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. 2006;73 (Suppl 1):S62.

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