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Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

1325 S Cliff Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57117-5045
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Laparoscopic Gallbladder Surgery (Cholecystectomy)

A cholecystectomy is a safe and effective surgery to remove the gallbladder and gallstones. The procedure only eradicates gallstones located in the gallbladder. It does not remove stones in the common bile duct.

Procedure Overview

Description of Procedure

Laparoscopic Gallbladder SurgeryThe surgeon will make a few minor incisions in the abdomen. After the incisions are made, the stomach is inflated with air or carbon dioxide, which allows the surgeon to see more clearly. A lighted scope is attached to a video camera (laparoscope) and then inserted into one incision near the belly button. The video monitor is used as a guide while the surgeon inserts surgical instruments into the other incisions to remove your gallbladder.

Why the Procedure is Performed

Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is the most effective method of treating gallstones that cause symptoms.

Before Surgery

Before the procedure

Prior to the procedure, the surgeon may order an intraoperative cholangiography, which is a special X-ray procedure that shows the anatomy of the bile ducts.

    After Surgery

    After the procedure

    After surgery, you may experience the following symptoms:

    • Pain in your shoulder and belly, which is caused from the gas used to inflate the abdomen during surgery. The pain will typically subside in 24 to 72 hours.
    • Bloating or gas
    • Diarrhea
    • Loss of appetite or some nausea
    • Minor inflammation or drainage at the surgical wound sites

    Recovery is much quicker and less painful after laparoscopic surgery than after open surgery. People generally go home the same day the procedure is performed or the following day, as compared with 2 to 4 days for open surgery. In addition, most people can return to their normal day-to-day activities in 7 to 10 days, instead of 4 to 6 weeks with open surgery.


    In about 2 out of 10 laparoscopic gallbladder surgeries in the United States, the surgeon will need to switch to an open surgical method that requires a larger incision.

    The overall risk of laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is extremely low. However, potential complications include:

    • Injury to the small intestine by instruments used during surgery
    • Injury to the common bile duct
    • Internal bleeding
    • Infection of an incision

    The surgery information on this page is intended as an informational resource only. Each patient and surgical situation is different. Patients should discuss details of a surgery, recovery and pain management with their doctor(s).

    The information provided above should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.