What Does the Gallbladder Do?
The gallbladder is a pear-shaped sac located beneath the liver. Its function is to store and concentrate bile produced by the liver. During digestion, the gallbladder releases bile into the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), where it helps break down food and absorb fats.1
When is Gallbladder Removal Necessary?
The most common reason to perform a cholecystectomy is gallstones, which are hardened deposits that result from an imbalance of bile and chemicals in the gallbladder. Gallstones can form in the gallbladder or in the bile duct can cause abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, and other symptoms.2
Other reasons for gallbladder removal include:
- Inflammation of the gallbladder
- Gallbladder polyps
- Inflammation of the pancreas caused by gallstones
Preparing for Gallbladder Removal
When your gallbladder removal procedure has been scheduled, you will be given detailed instructions on preparing for surgery. These instructions will include:
- Not eating the night before your gallbladder surgery
- Discontinuing use of certain medications and supplements
- Arranging for a friend or family member to drive you home after surgery
While the vast majority of our patients are able to return home the day of their cholecystectomy, there is a small possibility that you will need to spend a night in the hospital. Just in case, we ask our patients to come prepared with an overnight bag.
The Cholecystectomy Procedure
Cholecystectomy is a procedure performed robotically, under general anesthesia. To begin the procedure, the surgeon will make a series of small incisions in the abdomen so that a tiny camera and surgical instruments can be inserted. These instruments will be used to remove the gallbladder, then imaging is used to assure that gallstones have been removed and that the bile duct is healthy. Finally, the incisions are closed with sutures.3
There are a small number of patients for whom robotic gallbladder removal is not recommended. There is also a possibility that a surgeon may opt to convert from a robotic procedure to an “open” procedure during cholecystectomy. If this is the case, please know that converting from a robotic procedure is not necessarily a complication, but a step taken in the patient’s best interest.
Recovery After Gallbladder Removal
After a brief recovery and monitoring, most patients are able to return home the same day of their gallbladder removal. Most patients are able to get back to work within a week of their cholecystectomy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gallbladder Removal
What are the risks of cholecystectomy?
Gallbladder removal is a common procedure that is considered to be safe. Still, any surgical procedure is associated with some risks and complications. Possible complications of cholecystectomy include:
- Bile Leak
- Injury to the bile duct
- Injury to nearby organs or structures
Will I have difficulty digesting food after gallbladder removal?
The gallbladder is not a necessary organ, and gallbladder removal does not impede digestion. The gallbladder simply functions as extra storage for bile, which is produced in the liver. After gallbladder removal, your liver will still make sufficient bile for you to digest your food.
Contact Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors
If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms of gallstones, or if you have been diagnosed with gallstones, please contact us at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors to schedule a cholecystectomy consultation.
1 National Library of Medicine. How does the gallbladder work? Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279386/. Accessed October 28, 2022.
2 Mayo Clinic. Gallstones. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/gallstones/symptoms-causes/syc-20354214. Accessed October 28, 2022.
3 Cleveland Clinic. Gallbladder Removal. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/21614-gallbladder-removal. Accessed October 28, 2022.