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Gallbladder Surgery

Procedure overview

A cholecystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ that sits just below your liver on the upper right side of your abdomen. Your gallbladder collects and stores bile which is a digestive fluid produced in your liver.[1]

A cholecystectomy can be performed using an open procedure, or a laparoscopic procedure.  It is most commonly performed laparoscopically by inserting a tiny video camera and special surgical tools through four small incisions to see inside your abdomen and remove the gallbladder.  In an open procedure one large incision may be used to remove the gallbladder.[2]

A cholecystectomy is most commonly performed to treat gallstones and the complications they cause.  Gallstones may appear in the gallbladder (cholelithiasis), or in the bile duct (choledocholithiasis). Cholecystectomy may also be performed because of gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis), large gallbladder polyps, and pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis) due to gallstones.[3]

Cholecystectomy carries small risk of complications that include:

  • Bile leak
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to nearby structures, such as the bile duct, liver and small intestine
  • Risks of general anesthesia, such as blood clots and pneumonia
Figure 1. Open vs Robotic, Port Placement for Cholecystectomy Surgery

Learn more about what robotic assisted surgery is and how surgeons use the technology here.


Potential Benefits​

Potential benefits reported for Robotic Assisted Cholecystectomy include: 

  • Patients may experience shorter length of stay in hospital.[2],[3]

Additional Patient Resources

Visit the listed Canadian Societies below  for more information including frequently asked questions, how to prepare for surgery and what to expect after surgery.

Risks & Considerations

 Not everyone is a candidate for robotic assisted procedures, and other treatment options may be available and appropriate. Only a doctor can determine whether robotic assisted surgery is appropriate for a patient’s situation. Surgery of any form contains risks and it is important to discuss risks with your provider. Patients and doctors should review all available information on both non-surgical and surgical options in order to make an informed decision. 

Patients have also developed support areas where they are able to speak with each other about the surgery, their experiences, and any issues that they have faced during their treatment. To learn more check out the additional resources above or visit the community section of this website. 

[1] https://www.mayoclinic.org

[2] Lee, Eun Kyoung, et al. “Comparison of the Outcomes of Robotic Cholecystectomy and Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy.” Annals of Surgical Treatment and Research, vol. 93, no. 1, 1 July 2017, pp. 27–34, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507788/, 10.4174/astr.2017.93.1.27.

[3] Kane, William J., et al. “Robotic Compared with Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: A Propensity Matched Analysis.” Surgery, vol. 167, no. 2, Feb. 2020, pp. 432–435, 10.1016/j.surg.2019.07.020.