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What is a laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

Endoscopic gallbladder removal, also known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is the surgical removal of the gallbladder through a minimally invasive process called laparoscopy. In the past, gallbladder removal required a large incision into the abdominal cavity through which the surgeon removed the gallbladder under direct visualization. Since 1989 when it was invented, the laparoscope enables the gallbladder to be removed with only a small incision in the abdomen, with the gallbladder being removed via a handheld device while the surgeon visualizes the gallbladder on a screen, using the video camera and light source on the laparoscope. The smaller incision size and less involved surgery enable faster healing time and less pain than the prior method.  

The gallbladder is a small pouch-like structure located next to the liver, on the right side of the abdominal cavity. Its function is to store bile that is produced by the liver. Bile is a substance that helps in the digestion of fatty foods. Sometimes, the bile can build up and form crystals, or gallstones. This can block the exit of the bile from the gallbladder, leading to inflammation and infection of the gallbladder, which can cause abdominal pain and bloating on the right side of the belly area. At times, fever, nausea, and jaundice (yellow-tinged skin or eyes) can develop as well.  

If you are having some of the symptoms listed above, your physician may order bloodwork and an abdominal ultrasound, which is a test that helps visualize the liver and gallbladder to check for gallstones or inflammation. Based on these results, your symptoms, and your physical exam, your physician may recommend that you have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. For more information, see

Is laparoscopic cholecystectomy a major surgery?

How long does laparoscopic cholecystectomy take?

How painful is laparoscopic gallbladder surgery?

What are the side effects of having your gallbladder removed?

What food should you avoid if you have no gallbladder?

* Savings estimate based on a study of more than 1 billion claims comparing self-pay (or cash pay) prices of a frequency-weighted market basket of procedures to insurer-negotiated rates for the same. Claims were collected between July 2017 and July 2019. R.Lawrence Van Horn, Arthur Laffer, Robert L.Metcalf. 2019. The Transformative Potential for Price Transparency in Healthcare: Benefits for Consumers and Providers. Health Management Policy and Innovation, Volume 4, Issue 3.

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