Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that stores bile, the fluid that helps digest food. If it’s not working the way it should (or your bile gets out of balance), hard fragments start to form. These can be as small as a grain of rice or as big as a golf ball.
Gallstones don’t go away on their own. If they start to hurt or cause other symptoms, your doctor may decide to remove your gallbladder. This type of surgery is called a cholecystectomy. It’s one of the most common surgeries doctors perform.
About 80% of people who have gallstones will need surgery.
Doctors can remove your gallbladder in one of two ways:
Open Surgery: During this procedure, your surgeon will make a 5- to 7-inch incision (cut) on your belly to take out your gallbladder. You’ll need open surgery if you have a bleeding disorder. You may also need it if you have severe gallbladder disease, are very overweight, or are in your last trimester of pregnancy.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy: Doctors also call this “keyhole surgery.” Your surgeon doesn’t make a big opening in your belly. Instead, he makes four small cuts. He inserts a very thin, flexible tube that contains a light and a tiny video camera into your belly. These help your surgeon see your gallbladder better. Next, he’ll insert special tools to remove the diseased organ.