The Gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits beneath the liver in the right-upper abdomen. Its function is to store bile. It is attached to the bile ducts that come from the liver. These ducts carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and intestine where the bile helps digest food. The gallbladder is not necessary to maintain good health.
Gallstones usually form in the gallbladder because of excessive cholesterol in bile. When they cause pain or other problems, the removal of the gallbladder is usually needed. In the past, open abdominal surgery was the standard treatment. This procedure required a 3 to 7 day stay in the hospital and a 3 to 7 inch incision and scar on the abdomen.
Now the use of laparoscopy has been expanded to include removing a diseased gallbladder. With new video technology, the laparoscope has become a miniature television camera. Powerful magnification is now possible, showing the intestinal organs in great detail.
A cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. Using advanced laparoscopic technology, it is now possible to remove the gallbladder through a tiny incision at the navel. The patient receives general anesthesia. Then a small incision is made at the navel (point A) and a thin tube carrying the video camera is inserted. The surgeon inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide, a harmless gas, for easier viewing and to provide room for the surgery to be performed. Next, two needle-like instruments are inserted (points B). These instruments serve as tiny hands within the abdomen. They can pick up the gallbladder, move intestines around, and generally assist the surgeon. Finally, several different instruments are inserted (point C) to clip the gallbladder artery and bile duct, and to safely dissect and remove the gallbladder and stones. When the gallbladder is freed, it is then teased out of the tiny navel incision. The entire procedure normally takes 30 to 60 minutes. The three puncture wounds require no stitches and may leave very slight blemishes. The navel incision is barely visible.