Gallbladder removal - open


Open gallbladder removal is surgery to remove the gallbladder that uses an open surgical cut instead of a scope.

Alternative Names

Cholecystectomy - open


In open gallbladder removal surgery, a surgeon makes a large surgical cut in your belly to open it up and see the area. The surgeon then removes your gallbladder by reaching in through the cut, separating it from other organs, and gently lifting it out.

Surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).

The surgeon will make a 5- to 7-inch cut in the upper right part of your belly, just below your ribs. The surgeon will cut the bile duct and blood vessels that lead to the gallbladder. Then your gallbladder will be removed.

A special x-ray called a cholangiogram may be done during the surgery. This involves squirting some dye into your common bile duct. The dye helps give the surgeon a roadmap of your gallbladder area. It also helps find other stones that may be outside your gallbladder. If any stones are found, the surgeon may be able to remove them with a special medical instrument.

Open gallbladder removal surgery takes about 1 hour.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your doctor may recommend gallbladder removal surgery if you have gallstones that bother you or your gallbladder is not working normally (biliary dyskinesia).

You may have some or all of these symptoms:

The most common way to remove the gallbladder is by using a medical instrument called a laparoscope. See also: Gallbladder removal - laparoscopic

Sometimes it is not possible to remove the gallbladder using a laparoscope. In this case, the surgery will be changed to an open gallbladder removal.

Other reasons for this surgery may be:


Talk with your doctor about any of these risks.

The risks of any anesthesia are:

The risks of gallbladder surgery are:

Before the Procedure

Your doctor may ask you to have these medical tests done before your surgery:

Always tell your doctor or nurse:

During the week before your surgery:

On the day of the surgery:

Prepare your home for any problems you might have in getting around after the surgery.

After the Procedure

People usually stay in the hospital for 1 to 4 days after open gallbladder removal. During that time:

If there were problems during your surgery, or if you have bleeding, a lot of pain, or a fever, you may need to stay in the hospital longer.

See also: Gallbladder removal -- open -- discharge

Outlook (Prognosis)

Most people do very well and recover quickly.


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Keus F, Gooszen HG, van Laarhoven CJ. Open, small-incision, or laparoscopic cholecystectomy for patients with symptomatic cholecystolithiasis. An overview of Cochraine Hepato-Biliary Group reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010:(1):CD008318. Review.

Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 54.

Siddiqui T. Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Surg. 2008;195(1):40-47.

Review Date: 8/17/2011
Reviewed By: Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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