St. Luke's Hospital
Located in Chesterfield, MO
Main Number: 314-434-1500
Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia


    Gallbladder removal - open

    Cholecystectomy - open

    Open gallbladder removal is surgery to remove the gallbladder that uses an open surgical cut instead of a scope.


    In open gallbladder removal surgery, a surgeon makes a large surgical cut in your belly to open it up and see the area. The surgeon then removes your gallbladder by reaching in through the cut, separating it from other organs, and gently lifting it out.

    Surgery is done while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).

    The surgeon will make a 5- to 7-inch cut in the upper right part of your belly, just below your ribs. The surgeon will cut the bile duct and blood vessels that lead to the gallbladder. Then your gallbladder will be removed.

    A special x-ray called a cholangiogram may be done during the surgery. This involves squirting some dye into your common bile duct. The dye helps give the surgeon a roadmap of your gallbladder area. It also helps find other stones that may be outside your gallbladder. If any stones are found, the surgeon may be able to remove them with a special medical instrument.

    Open gallbladder removal surgery takes about 1 hour.

    Why the Procedure Is Performed

    Your doctor may recommend gallbladder removal surgery if you have gallstones that bother you or your gallbladder is not working normally (biliary dyskinesia).

    You may have some or all of these symptoms:

    • Indigestion
    • Infection (cholecystitis)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Pain after eating, usually in the upper right or upper middle area of your belly (epigastric pain)

    The most common way to remove the gallbladder is by using a medical instrument called a laparoscope. See also: Gallbladder removal - laparoscopic

    Sometimes it is not possible to remove the gallbladder using a laparoscope. In this case, the surgery will be changed to an open gallbladder removal.

    Other reasons for this surgery may be:

    • Bleeding problems
    • Lung disease
    • Obesity
    • Pancreatitis
    • Pregnancy (third trimester)
    • Severe liver problems
    • You have had many surgeries in this part of your belly in the past


    Talk with your doctor about any of these risks.

    The risks of any anesthesia are:

    • Blood clots in the legs or lungs
    • Breathing problems
    • Heart problems
    • Pneumonia
    • Reactions to drugs you are given

    The risks of gallbladder surgery are:

    • Bleeding
    • Infection
    • Injury to the common bile duct
    • Injury to the small or large intestine
    • Pancreatitis (inflammation in the pancreas)

    Before the Procedure

    Your doctor may ask you to have these medical tests done before your surgery:

    • Blood tests (complete blood count, electrolytes, liver and kidney tests)
    • Chest x-ray or electrocardiogram (EKG), for some patients
    • Other x-rays of the gallbladder
    • Ultrasound of the gallbladder

    Always tell your doctor or nurse:

    • If you are or might be pregnant
    • What drugs, vitamins, and other supplements you are taking, even ones you bought without a prescription

    During the week before your surgery:

    • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), vitamin E, warfarin (Coumadin), and any other drugs that make it hard for your blood to clot.
    • Your doctor may ask you to "clean out" your colon or intestines.
    • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
    • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

    On the day of the surgery:

    • Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery.
    • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
    • Shower the night before or the morning of your surgery.

    Prepare your home for any problems you might have in getting around after the surgery.

    After the Procedure

    People usually stay in the hospital for 1 to 4 days after open gallbladder removal. During that time:

    • You will be asked to breathe into a medical device called an incentive spirometer. This helps keep your lungs working well so that you do not get pneumonia.
    • The nurse will help you sit up in bed, hang your legs over the side, and then stand up and start to walk.
    • At first you will receive fluids into your vein through an intravenous tube (IV). Soon, though, the doctors and nurses will ask you to start drinking liquids and then eat other foods.
    • You will be able to begin showering again while you are still in the hospital.
    • You may be asked to wear pressure stockings on your legs to help prevent a blood clot from forming. These stockings help keep your blood circulating well.

    If there were problems during your surgery, or if you have bleeding, a lot of pain, or a fever, you may need to stay in the hospital longer.

    See also: Gallbladder removal -- open -- discharge

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Most people do very well and recover quickly.


    Gurusamy KS. Surgical treatment of gallstones. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 2010;39:229-244.

    Keus F, Gooszen HG, van Laarhoven CJ. Open, small-incision, or laparoscopic cholecystectomy for patients with symptomatic cholecystolithiasis. An overview of Cochraine Hepato-Biliary Group reviews. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010:(1):CD008318. Review.

    Chari RS, Shah SA. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 18th ed. St. Louis, Mo: WB Saunders; 2008:chap 54.

    Siddiqui T. Early versus delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy for acute cholecystitis: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Am J Surg. 2008;195(1):40-47.


    • Cholecystitis, CT scan


    • Cholecystitis, cholangio...


    • Cholecystolithiasis


    • Gallbladder


    • Gallbladder removal - se...


      • Cholecystitis, CT scan


      • Cholecystitis, cholangio...


      • Cholecystolithiasis


      • Gallbladder


      • Gallbladder removal - se...


      A Closer Look

      Talking to your MD

        Self Care

          Tests for Gallbladder removal - open

            Review Date: 8/17/2011

            Reviewed By: Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.

            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs

            Brain & Spine
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Notice of Privacy Practices PDF  |  Patient Rights PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile