Removal of the gallbladder (Cholecystectomy) is one of the most common operations in General Surgery. The usual indication for surgery is to relieve the severe pains brought on by gallstones: biliary colic. Sometimes gallstones can cause severe infection in the gallbladder, and if stones travel into the main bile duct, they can cause liver infection, jaundice and sometimes pancreas inflammation, all very serious diseases. We therefore take gallstone disease very seriously and recommend removal of the gallbladder after even one attack of biliary colic.
The gallbladder stores excess bile made by the liver and we know from experience that removing the gallbladder does not have any repercussions for the patient in the future e.g., no dietary alterations required. It is a bit like losing your tonsils or appendix! You’ll get by without it just fine, and no longer suffer the debilitating pain associated with this disease.
Removal of the gallbladder is generally done laparoscopically (keyhole surgery). The laparoscopic approach has revolutionized this operation. The previous open surgery involved a large, painful incision often with a prolonged hospital stay. The keyhole approach usually means a one night stay in hospital, with a quick post hospital recovery.
Dr Andrew Russell has been performing this operation laparoscopically since 1992 and he has extensive experience. Dr Andrew Russell performed the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy at the Rockhampton Base Hospital in 1994. Of course, not every patient can have their gallbladder successfully removed with keyhole surgery, but Dr Andrew Russell’s success rate exceeds 99%. Sometimes the operation can be more complicated if gallstones have found their way into the main bile duct, but these can often be retrieved using the keyhole approach as well as using special baskets to retrieve them under x-ray control.