What should you expect after gallbladder surgery?
What are the cholecystectomy complications?
Some people develop a wound or internal infection after a gallbladder removal.
Signs of a possible infection include increasing pain, swelling or redness, and pus leaking from a wound.
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Bleeding can occur after your operation, although this is rare. If it does occur, you may require a further operation to stop it.
When the gallbladder is removed, special clips are used to seal the tube that connects the gallbladder to the main bile duct.
But bile fluid can occasionally leak out into the tummy (abdomen) after the gallbladder is removed.
Symptoms of a bile leak include tummy pain, feeling sick, a fever and a swollen tummy.
Sometimes this fluid can be drained off. Occasionally, an operation is required to drain the bile and wash out the inside of your tummy.
Bile leakage occurs in around 1% of cases.
Injury to the bile duct
The bile duct can be damaged during a gallbladder removal.
If this happens during surgery, it may be possible to repair it straight away.
In some cases, further surgery is needed after your original operation.
Injury to the intestine, bowel and blood vessels
The surgical instruments used to remove the gallbladder can also injure surrounding structures, such as the intestine, bowel and blood vessels.
This type of injury is rare and can usually be repaired at the time of the operation.
Sometimes injuries are noticed afterwards and a further operation is needed.
Deep vein thrombosis
Some people are at a higher risk of blood clots developing after surgery.
This is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and usually occurs in a leg vein.
This can be serious because the clot can travel around the body and could block the flow of blood into the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
You may be given special compression stockings to wear after the operation to prevent this happening.
Risks from general anaesthetic
There are several serious complications associated with having a general anaesthetic, but these are very rare.
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What are the symptoms of post cholecystectomy syndrome?
The symptoms include fatty food intolerance, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, jaundice, and intermittent episodes of abdominal pain. Post-cholecystectomy syndrome can present early, typically in the post-operative period, but can also manifest months to years after surgery.
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What are the effects of having no gallbladder?
To live well without a gallbladder, it’s important to start by understanding what the gallbladder does so you know what your body’s missing.
The gallbladder is a tiny digestive organ that sits in your abdomen, just behind the liver. It’s connected to your liver through the common bile duct. This duct transports bile from the liver through the hepatic ducts, into the gallbladder, and into the duodenum — the first part of your small intestine.
The gallbladder serves as a storage facility for bile, which is a substance that helps to helps your body break down foods and digest fat. When you eat, your gallbladder releases some bile into the small intestine, where it gets to work on breaking down fats.
Without a gallbladder, there’s no place for bile to collect. Instead, your liver releases bile straight into the small intestine. This allows you to still digest most foods. However, large amounts of fatty, greasy, or high-fiber food become harder to digest. This can result in gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
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What should you expect after gallbladder surgery?
In recovery, medical personnel will keep an eye on your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure until you’re awake, alert, and stable. You’ll also get pain meds as needed. Typically, someone will help you stand and walk. You'll make that journey the day of your surgery if yours is laparoscopic, and the day after if you had open surgery. In either case, you can start to drink within a few hours and then, slowly, begin to eat solid food.
Leaving the Hospital
You’ll need to arrange a ride home because you’ll be groggy from anesthesia. You typically go home the same day for laparoscopic surgery, but stay longer for open surgery (usually a day or two). You might have a tube from your nose to your stomach that removes air from your belly. Hospital staff can take it out once you can go to the bathroom normally.
Make sure you have all your approved medications, bandages, medicated soaps, and instructions. It’s a good idea to have someone spend your first night home with you after surgery, in case you don’t feel well or need help. Keep your incision clean and dry. Make sure to follow your doctor’s bathing instructions. Take only meds that your doctor approves or prescribes.
You might have a sore throat, nausea, and vomiting for a day or two after your surgery, thanks to the anesthesia. You might feel some pain around your incisions, or in your shoulders from the air pumped into your body during surgery. Icing can help with this. With your doctor’s approval, you can take nonprescription pain meds like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. They can prescribe meds for the pain, if you need them.
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What to Eat After Surgery
Drink plenty of water, and have foods with plenty of fiber. This can keep you from having to strain when you go to the bathroom. Stay away from high-fat foods for at least a week after your operation. Eat smaller meals during that time, too. That way, there'll be enough bile to help digest what you eat. Look for lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Too much caffeine, dairy, or sugar can worsen any diarrhea you have.
Activity After Surgery
Slowly get back into things as you feel better. Walking every hour or so is a good start. You should be able to go back to normal activity a couple of weeks after laparoscopic surgery. It could take a month or more for open gallbladder surgery. Usually, people can resume sexual activity about 2 weeks after the operation. Talk to your doctor about when they'd like you to ease back into your normal day-to-day.
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