MARK COLEMAN - Consultant Surgeon
Mark Coleman
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Tel: 01752 761834

Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

Gallstones are very common. They affect up to 1 in 5 people in the UK. They most often present with pain in the right upper part of the abdomen (stomach area). This is called biliary colic. It can be associated with nausea and provoked by eating food (especially fatty food). Gallstones particularly affect women in their 30s and 40s. Severe pain due to inflammation (cholecystitis) can also develop which may require antibiotics to treat. Occasionally more dangerous conditions such as jaundice or pancreatitis may develop due to gallstones escaping from the gallbladder and causing blockage to the bile duct.

This is the tube leading from the liver to the gut that the gallbladder is attached to. Once gallstones cause symptoms, generally it is advisable to remove the gallbladder by keyhole surgery (laparoscopic cholecystectomy) This is a 1 hour operation carried out under general (full) anaesthetic with a 1 night stay in hospital afterwards. It is carried out through 4 small keyhole cuts (incisions). The gallbladder is freed from the liver after the blood vessel and gallbladder duct have been safely sealed with tiny metal clips and divided. There are no stitches to be removed as they are dissolving underneath the skin. Each cut will be covered by a shower-proof dressing; these can be removed at home after 1 week.

After the operation it is usual to need 2-4 weeks off work and other physical activities. Complications are uncommon but include the following:

  • Conversion from keyhole to open surgery is required to safely complete the operation in less than 5% of cases
  • Serious bleeding during or after the operation in less than 1%
  • Serious infection after the operation in less than 1%
  • Damage to the main bile duct in 1-2 per 1000 cases
  • Bowel injury in less than 1%
  • Venous thrombo-embolism in less than 1%
  • Retained gallstone(s) in the bile duct.
  • Disturbed bowels (diarrhoea) in 10%

A follow up appointment in the outpatient clinic will be arranged 4-6 weeks after surgery.

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