This is the removal of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is an organ that acts as a reservoir for bile. It contracts and releases bile after you eat fatty foods. The bile helps to break down the fats in the foods so you can digest them.

When the gallbladder becomes burdened by gallstones (blocking the cystic duct, causing an obstruction and inflammation of the gallbladder) or the gallbladder fails to contract and release all of its bile, this results in pain. At that point, a cholecystectomy is generally recommended.

Symptoms of gallbladder problems

You may be able to recognize the pain associated with gallbladder attacks if it meets some or all these criteria:

  • Pain or aching in the upper right abdomen, right under the ribs or breastbone
  • Pain in the back or upper right shoulder blade
  • Nausea, vomiting or heartburn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowed skin)

Not all patients experience all of these, and not all patients will have multiple attacks. But, if you notice a pattern of these symptoms, it’s time to call your doctor and get it checked out.

The operation

During a cholecystectomy, your gallbladder will be removed. The gallbladder is one of the few organs that can be removed and not require replacement medication. This operation is commonly done laparoscopically, which will leave you with minimal scarring and pain plus a faster recovery time.

Many elective laparoscopic cholecystectomies are outpatient procedures. It’s more common to stay a day or two in the hospital in the event of an emergent laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

The great benefit of a cholecystectomy is that after the procedure, patients don’t experience a reoccurrence of symptoms.