Common Conditions Treated

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

What is a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy?

This is a surgical technique in which the gall bladder is removed through small incisions (keyhole surgery) in the abdomen. The alternative procedure uses one large incision which often takes longer to recover from.

A laparoscope, a narrow camera, is inserted through a 10mm tube, this allows your doctor to see your gallbladder on a TV screen. Your gallbladder is then removed with instruments inserted through other small incisions.

What to expect on the day of your surgery

On the day of the surgery, you'll be asked to change into a gown. You need to bring in your own dressing gown, cotton underpants and slippers. Please remove all make-up, nail varnish and jewellery (wedding rings are permitted.) Leave valuables at home.

The nursing staff will complete your admission paperwork. The risks attached to your surgery will be explained to you. If there is any aspect of your surgery or the risks attached that you are not sure about then you must ask to speak to your surgeon. Then, ensuring you fully understand the surgery you are about to undergo, he or she will ask you to sign a consent form, giving the doctor/ surgeon permission to perform your operation.

An anaesthestist will see you prior to your surgery. The anaesthetic you receive may cause you to feel tired. This may continue for a day or so and is considered normal.

You will be measured for support stockings and these will be applied prior to surgery (further instructions given in discharge section.)

The stitches are dissolvable and your wounds will be covered with dressings.

Discharge time will vary, it depends on the individual and fulfilment of certain criteria to ensure this is done safely.

Please ensure you wear loose fitting clothes (bras and waistbands can be uncomfortable) to ensure you are comfortable when travelling home.

Risks involved

The risk of complications is very low, however, reported complications include:

  • Bleeding at the time of surgery or in the hours immediately after the surgery
  • Infection of the wounds or a systemic illness for you the patient requiring further on-going care
  • Bile leak or Injury to the bile ducts that the gall bladder is attached to, these injuries may require the placement of tubes and drains which can remain in situ for a few days or occasionally weeks. Sometimes further surgery is required to repair an injury to the bile duct.
  • Minor shoulder pain (irritation below the diaphragm can be felt as pain in the front of the shoulder)

Advice for discharge

Following your operation you may find the wound sites sore and may have some referred pain to the shoulder. Please have a supply of simple pain killers ready at home such as Paracetamol and ibuprofen, other analgesia may be provided on discharge if necessary.

If you notice any excess bleeding, swelling or bruising please contact the day unit/emergency numbers for advice.

You will have dissolvable stitches, which are absorbed into the body; this usually takes 2-3 weeks and steri-strips which will soak off in the bath/shower in approximately 5 days. You may begin showering the day after your operation- keep the existing dressing in place. After showering remove the dressing, dry the area and replace with a clean dressing. Keep the wounds covered for a further 2 days.

When you return home you will naturally feel tired for a few days. You should get up each day and take some gentle exercise, begin by taking short walks around your home until you return to your normal routine. You must avoid strenuous exercise and heavy lifting for at least 4 weeks. A sick note will be given for 2-3 weeks depending on your job.

Please follow instructions for the support stockings provided:

  • Wear them day and night for 2 weeks or until fully mobile.
  • Remove daily to inspect the condition of your skin- then re-apply.
  • You must wear them the night of your operation.

For the first 2 weeks after surgery eat frequent small meals and after that return to your normal diet.

You will not be able to drive for 24 hours and then only if you can' safely control your vehicle. (Ultimate responsibility for re-commencing driving lies with you the patient- if in any doubt please consult your G.P/M.O.) You must not operate machinery or make any 'important' legal decisions and must not look after any dependents, drink alcohol or take sleeping tablets.