According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25 million Americans experience gallstones at some point. Of that population, almost 300,000 people undergo a cholecystectomy for treatment.

But what exactly does that procedure entail? And is it right for your situation?

What Is a Cholecystectomy?

Cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder, which can be an excellent treatment option for those dealing with gallstones. If you're experiencing pain caused by gallstones — which typically occurs when the stones block the flow of bile — your doctor may recommend this procedure.

The gallbladder collects and stores bile, but you can live without it.

A cholecystectomy might also be recommended for other reasons, including:

  • Experiencing gallstones in the bile duct
  • Having gallstones that cause pancreas inflammation
  • Suffering from gallbladder inflammation

The Laparoscopic Difference

In the past, cholecystectomies were open procedures that required good-sized incisions and a longer recovery time. However, advancements in technology and technique now allow many people to undergo what's known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

During a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, a surgeon will make four small incisions in your abdomen. Using a tiny video camera to visualize the surgical area and specialized surgical tools, the doctor will remove the gallbladder.

The smaller incision and less-invasive nature of the laparoscopic procedure allow patients to recover more quickly and with reduced pain in many cases.

In some cases, though, the open procedure may still be the best option for patients—particularly in the case that a large incision is necessary to remove the gallbladder. Your doctor will make the ultimate judgment about whether your individual and unique needs and health allow for a laparoscopic procedure or whether an open procedure is needed.

Have you been having issues with your gallbladder? Find a physician at Parkridge Medical Center to learn if you could benefit from a cholecystectomy.