What is a Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a procedure in which the gallbladder is removed by laparoscopic techniques. Laparoscopic surgery also referred to as minimally invasive surgery describes the performance of surgical procedures with the assistance of a video camera and several thin instruments.
During a laparoscopic surgical procedure, small incisions of up to half an inch are made and plastic tubes called ports are placed through these incisions. The camera and the instruments are then introduced through the ports which allow access to the inside of the patient. The camera transmits an image of the organs inside the abdomen onto a television monitor. The surgeon is not able to see directly into the patient without the traditional large incision. The video camera becomes a surgeons eyes in laparoscopy surgery, since the surgeon uses the image from the video camera positioned inside the patients body to perform the procedure.
Benefits of minimally invasive or laparoscopic procedures include less post-operative discomfort since the incisions are much smaller, quicker recovery times, shorter hospital stays, earlier return to full activities and much smaller scars. Furthermore, there may be less internal scarring when the procedures are performed in a minimally invasive fashion compared to standard open surgery.
How safe is laparoscopic gallbladder surgery?
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a very safe operation. The overall complication rate is less than 2%. The complication rate for laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is similar to the complication rate for traditional open gallbladder surgery when performed by a properly trained surgeon.
How is laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed?
- General anesthesia is utilized, so the patient is asleep throughout the procedure.
- An incision that is approximately half an inch is made around the umbilicus (belly button), three other quarter to half inch incisions are made for a total of four incisions. Four narrow tubes called laparoscopic ports are placed through the tiny incisions for the laparoscopic camera and instruments.
- A laparoscope (which is a long thin round instrument with a video lens at its tip) is inserted through the belly button port and connected to a special camera. The laparoscope provides the surgeon with a magnified view of the patient’s internal organs on a television screen.
- Long specially designed instruments are inserted through the other three ports that allow your surgeon to delicately separate the gallbladder from its attachments to the liver and the bile duct and then remove it through one of the ports from the abdomen.
- Your surgeon may occasionally perform an X-ray, called a cholangiogram, to exam for stones in the bile duct.
- After the gallbladder is removed from the abdomen then the small incisions are closed.
How long will patient be in the hospital?
Once a diet is tolerated, patients leave the hospital. Most patients go home the next day after a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Some may even go home the same day the operation is performed. This compares with a five day stay following the open cholecystectomy procedure.