In the early 1990s cholecystectomy became one of the first common general surgical operations to be performed laparoscopically. At the time it was a major advancement, and despite some skeptics at the time, has become the Gold Standard for treatment of gallstone related disease.
It is now performed by most general surgeons and is one of the best examples of how a laparoscopic approach can reduce post operative pain, hospital stay and recovery compared to its open equivalent. Most patients will have 4 small incisions, and spend one night in hospital. Recovery is quick with most patients being able to return to work after a week. There is one instance where a patient had there gallbladder removed laparoscopically and ran a marathon the following week.
Most patients want to know what will happen to them without there gallbladder and why we don’t just remove the stones. The gallbladders main function is to store and concentrate bile produced in the liver.
Bile aids in digestion by acting as a detergent which breaks down fat particles so they can be absorbed. Without a gallbladder about a third of patients may have mild indigestion if they eat food with a lot of fat in it, especially if they eat large quantities quickly. If the surgeon was to just remove the stones and leave the gallbladder in place then many patients would form more stones and end up with the same problem they had in the first place.
As we can survive happily without a gallbladder save for some intolerance to fat which is not necessary a bad thing it is much better to remove the gallbladder. Generally it would be said that laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a very safe procedure in the hands of an experienced laparoscopic surgeon. Specific risks will be discussed with you prior to surgery.