Also known as: gallbladder removal, surgical removal of the gallbladder.

What is a cholecystectomy?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ attached to the liver that stores bile. When the gallbladder needs to be removed, the procedure is known as a cholecystectomy.

When is it recommended to remove a gallbladder?

Most gallbladder removals are performed in patients with gallstones in order to prevent future complications. If the gallbladder is not removed, the gallstones can block the gallbladder and cause cholecystitis, migrate outside the gallbladder, blocking the pancreatic duct causing pancreatitis or blocking the bile duct causing a severe infection.

What happens during the procedure?

In most cases cholecystectomy can performed laparoscopically. This is a minimally invasive procedure where a laparoscope is inserted through an incision in the abdomen in order to remove the gallbladder. The procedure usually takes less than an hour.

Is any special preparation needed?

Most patients have an ultrasound done and some blood work done before the case. The patient may need to avoid food, drink or certain medications for a period of time before the procedure.

The surgery is performed under general anesthesia.

What are the risk factors?

Infection, bleeding, blood clots, injury to surrounding organs and tissue and heart problems are potential risk factors of cholecystectomy. The complications are very low.

What should you expect for recovery?

The recovery for a cholecystectomy is extremely well tolerated by our patients. Patients usually go home the same day with mild pain. The pain is treated with Tylenol and Motrin. Patients will have a postoperative visit with their surgeon after two weeks.

Reviewed by: Juan L Calisto, MD

This page was last updated on: April 22, 2021 09:44 AM

Pediatric Gastroenterology

The Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital is dedicated to the treatment of a wide variety of gastrointestinal problems in infants, children and adolescents with a multidisciplinary approach.

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Gallstones and Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ attached to the liver that stores bile. Gallstones are abnormal solid deposits made of cholesterol and biliary pigments. They are found inside the gallbladder. Learn more

Choledochal Cysts

If a duct draining bile from the liver is dilated or shows an out-pouching in a particular segment, this is called a choledochal cyst. Learn more


Laparoscopy refers to the use of a thin camera and instruments inserted through small incisions in the abdomen to perform operations that had been done with large incisions in the past. Learn more