Gallbladder surgery?

Medical experts recommend avoiding gallbladder surgery if you don’t have symptoms or a definite diagnosis.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

smart health facts

 Smart health facts: Gallbladder surgery

Gallbladder attacks and gallstones may lead you to discuss gallbladder removal with your doctor.  In laparoscopic gallbladder surgery (laparoscopic cholecystectomy), the doctor inserts a lighted tube in your belly to remove your gallbladder by making several small cuts.   If the gallbladder cannot safely be removed by laparascope, the surgeon will do a more complicated open surgery and make a larger incision in your stomach.

You may want to talk with your doctor about your options. 

  • Up to 4 out of 10 people continue to have stomach pain – even without their gallbladders.
  • Many "silent" gallstones do not cause symptoms and no treatment  is usually recommended for them.
  • Surgery lowers the chance of gallstones returning, but they do sometimes form in the bile ducts years later.

Ask your doctor about other options for surgery Why you might need gallbladder surgery

  • Pain in your abdomen caused by gallstones
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting
  • An infected gallbladder

understand the risks about surgery Understand the risks of gallbladder surgery

  • Injury to the duct that connects the gallbladder and small intestine
  • Injury to the small intestine
  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the belly
  • Swelling in the pancreas (pancreatitis)

 Ask your doctor about other options

  • Lifestyle changes, for example, change in diet and weight loss
  • Pain medicine
  • Endoscopy test (ERCP) to find and remove stones from bile duct

 Learn more

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This article is not intended to provide comprehensive information about this procedure or its risks. For detailed information, talk to your doctor. Coverage for treatment options varies. Please check your plan documents for coverage details.

Last modified: 6/24/2013
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