Gallbladder Removal

gallbladder removalLaparoscopic Cholecystectomy:

A cholecystectomy (koh-luh-sis-TEK-tuh-me) is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder – a pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder collects and stores bile – a digestive fluid produced in your liver.

A cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile. A cholecystectomy is a common surgery, and it carries only a small risk of complications. In most cases, you can go home the same day of your cholecystectomy.


A cholecystectomy may be necessary if you experience pain from gallstones that block the flow of bile. Common symptoms include right-sided or upper central abdominal pain, which commonly occurs after eating fatty or greasy foods. The pain can be associated with nausea, vomiting, and / or a bloating sensation. The pain can also radiate into the back and/or right shoulder. A small percentage of patients have these symptoms without gallstones, but can be shown to have gallbladder dysfunction. Gallbladder dysfunction is identified on a test called a CCK – HIDA which measures how well the gallbladder functions.

Pre-op Evaluation and Prep:

Most patients have an ultrasound of the gallbladder, liver and bile ducts. Other imaging tests, such as a CAT scan, HIDA scan, or endoscopy may be ordered if necessary. Routine blood work and x-ray studies may be ordered prior to surgery based on the patient's age and the presence of any existing medical problems.

You may be instructed to stop taking some medications before surgery. Make sure your surgeon knows all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you take, including natural or nutritional supplements. For more information related to preparation for surgery click here.


Laparoscopic gallbladder removal is performed under general anesthesia so you will not feel anything. The surgery involves three to four small incisions less than one-half inch in length. Local anesthetic (numbing medication) will be injected in the area of each incision. A camera is inserted into the abdomen through one of these incisions. The other incisions are used for the insertion of instruments the surgeon uses to remove the gallbladder instead of making a large incision as was commonly done in the past. The stitches will be under the skin and the incisions will be covered with a small dressing or bandaid, if anything.


This varies from patient to patient. Many patients return to desk type work within a few days.  More strenuous jobs, such as those requiring heavy lifting, may not be feasible for a week or two.  It is rare for patients to need extended time off of work.

While recovery instructions may be tailored to individualize a plan of care based upon your specific needs, these instructions are common following laparoscopic gallbladder surgery:

  • You will need to arrange for a ride home the day of your surgery and we recommend someone stay with you for the first 24 hours at home.
  • Avoid fried foods, milk products and citrus juices for around one day after your surgery. Suggestions for foods to eat include soup, sandwich, pasta, potatoes, toast, and applesauce. You will want to slowly reintroduce fatty foods into your diet. For full list of suggested diet for gallbladder click here.
  • When you leave the facility after surgery, we will want you to go home and rest. Avoid making any other plans on the day of your surgery. Starting the following day, you can increase your activity as you feel up to it.
  • You may shower the day after your surgery, but will need to avoid soaking in a tub or pool for around 1 week.
  • The dressings applied to your surgical site will be specific to your procedure. If surgical glue is used, there will be no dressings to remove. If bandages are applied, they can usually be removed at home in 24-48 hours. You will receive care instructions specific to your procedure.
  • It is not uncommon to feel pain radiating to your right shoulder area for the first few days following the procedure. You will likely be given a prescription for pain medication. The recovery nurse will discuss a pain control plan following surgery specific to you and your needs including activities like ice applied over incisions and a medication regimen. Oftentimes we will recommend taking Tylenol and Advil (same as Motrin, Ibuprofen) or Aleve in addition to the narcotic pain medication.
  • It is often suggested to start taking a stool softener twice daily the day following your procedure. You will want to continue this regimen as long as you are taking narcotic pain medications.

For additional information for after surgery preparation click here.

For More Information

To listen to our board certified surgeons answer your most frequently asked questions, please visit our FAQ page.

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To Schedule an Appointment

To find out more about Gallbladder Removal services offered at CSA Surgical Center in Columbia, Missouri please call Columbia Surgical Associates at 573-443-8773 and schedule an appointment.

Hear from Randy Lenz, Gallbladder Patient:

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