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During a gall bladder laparoscopy procedure, a surgeon uses a laparoscope — a tiny telescopic video camera — to help him remove a patient’s gall bladder by means of cannulas, which are small thin, tubes inserted into the body via three or four tiny surgical incisions in the patient’s abdomen. The procedure, which takes about one to three hours, is performed under general anesthesia and leaves minimal scarring. In most cases, patients will be able to leave the hospital within a day and can go back to their normal routines in about a week. Although there are risks associated with every surgical procedure, the risk of complications is low for gall bladder laparoscopy surgery.
To begin the procedure, which is performed on approximately 700,000 American patients annually, the surgeon will make tiny incisions in the patient’s abdomen, near his navel. A specialized camera is attached to a cannula, which enables the surgeon to get an enlarged view of the patient’s internal organs on a monitor. Other small tubes are then placed in the patient’s body, which lets the surgeon gently detach the gall bladder and then take it out through one of the small incisions. To keep the stomach expanded during the surgery, carbon dioxide gas is pumped into the cavity of the abdomen. This allows the surgeon to have ample room to work and the gas will be eliminated harmlessly in the patient's body.
During gall bladder laparoscopy surgery, the bile duct and the artery at the bottom of the gall bladder are blocked using tiny metal clips. Large stones and the bile in the gall bladder are removed, which enables the gall bladder to shrink. After the gall bladder is deflated, it can easily be guided through one of the incisions. Usually, a dye is placed into the patient's bile ducts and an X-ray is taken to see if there is any other material that needs to be removed.
After coming out of the anesthesia, a person typically will experience pain in and around the abdomen. After a couple of hours, a patient can consume liquids and may be able to eat light meals. While the digestive system is recuperating, it is normal to have stomach discomfort. In most cases, the doctor will prescribe pain medication.
In some gall bladder laparoscopy cases, complications may arise. While rare, complications may include infection, bleeding, clotting, or pneumonia. In very rare cases, bile may leak into the abdomen. During the procedure, it is possible, but unlikely, that intestines or major blood vessels may become damaged by surgical instruments.