Having Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy

You’ve had painful attacks caused by gallstones. Because of this, you are having surgery to remove your gallbladder. This is called cholecystecomy. A technique called laparoscopy will be used. This allows surgery to be done through a few small incisions.

Image of incision sites


Doctor and patient

Before Your Surgery

  • Tell your provider what medications you take. Include those bought over the counter. Also include herbs or supplements. Be sure to mention if you take prescription blood thinners. This includes warfarin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, and aspirin.

  • Have any tests your provider asks for, such as blood tests.

  • Don’t eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes water, coffee, and mints.

The Day of Surgery

  • Your doctor may have you take your normal medication with a sip of water. Check with your doctor. 

When you arrive, you will prepare for surgery:

  • An IV line will be put into a vein in your arm or hand. This gives you fluids and medication.

  • An anesthesiologist will talk with you about anesthesia. This is medication used to prevent pain. You will receive general anesthesia. This puts you into a state like deep sleep through the procedure.

During Laparoscopic Surgery

For this surgery, a thin tube with a camera is used. This is called a laparoscope. The scope sends images from inside the body to a video screen. It allows the surgeon to view and work on your gallbladder:

  • Small incisions are made in your abdomen. The scope is put through one of the incisions. Surgical tools are put through other incisions.

  • Small clips are used to close off the connection between the gallbladder and bile duct. The gallbladder is then detached from the liver.

  • The gallbladder is removed through one of the incisions. Bile still flows from the liver to the small intestine.

  • When the surgery is done, all tools are removed. Incisions are closed with sutures or staples. Occasionally, laparoscopic operations may need to be converted to open operations because of scar tissue, unusual anatomy, or for some other reason.

After Surgery

You will be sent to a room to wake up from the anesthesia. You will likely go home the same day. In some cases, an overnight stay is needed. When you are released to go home, have a family member or friend ready to drive you.

Risks and Possible Complications of Gallbladder Surgery

All surgeries have risks. The risks of gallbladder surgery include:

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Injury to the common bile duct or nearby organs

  • Blood clots in the legs

  • Bile leaks

  • Hernia at incision site

  • Pneumonia