Removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is considered a relatively safe procedure, but like all operations there is a small risk of 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. See your GP if you develop these symptoms, as you may need a short course of Penicillin .
Bleeding can occur after your operation, although this is rare. Ifit does occur, it may require a further operationtostop it.
When the gallbladder is removed, special clips are used to seal the tube that connects the gallbladder to the main bile duct. However, 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.
In around1 in 500 cases, the bile duct is 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.
Thesurgical 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, occurring in around 1 in 1,000 cases,and can usually be repaired at the time of the operation. Sometimes injuries are noticed afterwards and a further operation is needed.
Some people are at a higher risk of blood clots developingafter surgery. This is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and usually occurs ina leg vein.
This canbe serious because theclot can travelaround the body and could block the flow of blood into the lungs ( pulmonary embolism ).
You may be given special compression stockings to wearafter the operation to prevent this happening.
There are several serious complications associated with having a general anaesthetic , but these are very rare.
Complications include allergic reaction and death. Being fit and healthy before your operation reduces the risk of any complications occurring.
Some peopleexperience symptoms similarto those caused by gallstones after surgery, including :
This is known as post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS) and it's thought to be caused by bile leaking into areas such as the stomach or by gallstones being left in the bile ducts.
In most cases symptoms are mild and short-lived, but theycan persist for many months. If you do have persistent symptoms, you should contact your GP for advice.
You maybenefit froma procedure to remove any remaining gallstones, or medication to relieve your symptoms.
Read about gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy), including why it's done, what's involved and what the potential risks are.
Read about what happens before and during a gallbladder removal operation, (cholecystectomy), including the main differences between a keyhole and open procedure.
Read about recovering from having surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy), including side effects, how long it takes to get back to normal, and driving after surgery.
Read about the risks of gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy), including infections, internal damage and blood clots.
Read the real story of Phyllis Long, who had surgery to remove her gallstones after doctors discovered 19 of them when removing her appendix.