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Cholecystectomy (Gallbladder Removal)

  • What is cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal)?

    Cholecystectomy, also known as gallbladder removal surgery, is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. It is performed when the recurring formation of gallstones on the wall of the gallbladder lead to severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and digestive problems, or result in complications such as infection.

    Laparoscopic (keyhole) cholecystectomy is the standard of care for patients with symptomatic gallstones. The surgery is done using small instruments and a video camera, which are inserted into the abdomen through a few small keyholes.

    gallbladder removal laparoscopic cholecystectomy

  • Cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal may be recommended for those who experience recurring gallstone formation or when symptoms become severe.

    Left untreated, gallstones can also result in complications such as cholecystitis (infection of the gallbladder), cholangitis (blockage of the bile duct resulting in pain, fever and jaundice) and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

    When do you need a cholecystectomy?

    Symptoms of gallstones are often mistaken to be ‘gastric’ in nature and may be dismissed. However, you should seek treatment for severe symptoms such as:

    • abdominal pain (usually on the right side, just under the ribs, or in the upper middle part of the tummy)
    • pain in the back or right shoulder
    • nausea or vomiting
    • bloating or indigestion

    Cholecystectomy or gallbladder removal can be performed using laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, using small instruments and a video camera, which are inserted into the abdomen through a few small keyholes. This is the standard of care for patients with symptomatic gallstones.

  • A cholecystectomy is performed using general anaesthesia so you will be asleep throughout the procedure. In the conventional laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, four incisions are made through the abdominal wall. A small camera is inserted through one while the surgeon removes the gallbladder through the other incisions. This leaves four scars with at least three scars in the upper abdomen being visible.

    You can expect a quick recovery after laparoscopic cholecystectomy as the incisions are small and post-operative pain minimal. Most patients stay one night in hospital for observation before discharge. You can get back to normal activities and work within a few days and resume exercise after 2 weeks.

    Can laparoscopic cholecystectomy be done without scars?

    Although laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a very good operation, it does leave a few small visible scars from the keyhole incisions. Patients who prefer a better cosmetic outcome are also able to perform the exact same procedure without leaving any visible scars. Known as single incision laparoscopic surgery (SILS), a single cut is made through the umbilicus, which is our body’s ‘natural orifice’. The camera and instruments used for the surgery pass through this single incision, and the resultant scar is invisible when healed as it is embedded deep inside the umbilicus.

    Recovery varies from person to person, depending on the procedure and your health. Most people can return home on the same day or with an overnight stay for observation, and return to work in a few days.

  • Our team of experienced surgeons are well-trained in performing procedures such as cholecystectomy.

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  • To help patients make informed decisions, Mount Elizabeth Hospitals provide price transparency through its Price Guarantee Procedures here. This price guarantee ensures you know the full costs of your procedure upfront without needing to worry about hidden costs.

    We also accept bill financing from both local and international private hospitalisation insurance and MediSave-approved insurance known as Integrated Shield Plans. If you have an Integrated Shield Plan, you may not have to incur any out-of-pocket expenses for your hospital stay.

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