What you should know
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy (Precare) Care Guide
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is surgery to remove your gallbladder. The gallbladder stores liquid called bile. Bile helps your body digest fat. After surgery, your bile ducts will widen to hold the bile once held by your gallbladder. During the surgery, small incisions are made in your abdomen. Surgical tools and a small scope are inserted through the incisions. A scope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end.
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- You may have pain in your abdomen and around your incisions. Any carbon dioxide gas that remains in your abdomen can rise and cause neck and shoulder pain. Nausea and vomiting are also common after surgery. There is a small risk that your bile duct, liver, small intestine, or other organs could be damaged during surgery. You could bleed more than expected or get an infection. Bile or bowel movement in your abdomen can cause a severe infection or abscess. Your gallbladder may leak bile and gallstones before it is removed, or bile may leak into your abdomen after surgery. Your pancreas could become inflamed.
- Your surgery incisions may not heal properly and cause a hernia (bulge of tissue). The carbon dioxide could cause your heart to beat too fast or too slow, or cause trouble breathing. You may still have gallstones after surgery, and you may need a different procedure to remove them. During the operation, your laparoscopic surgery may need to be converted to open surgery. This means that a larger incision will be made in your abdomen. There is risk that you could get a blood clot in your leg, which could break loose and travel to your lungs or brain. This can be life-threatening.
The week before your surgery:
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
- Tell your caregiver if you know or think you might be pregnant.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine. Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using any of your medicines before the surgery, including aspirin, blood thinners, and insulin.
- You may need blood or urine tests. You may also need imaging tests, such as x-rays, an ultrasound, or a CT scan. Ask your caregiver for more information about any tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
The night before your surgery:
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery, or as directed.
The day of your surgery:
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Ask your caregiver before you take any medicine on the day of your surgery. Bring your pill bottles or a list of your medicines with you to the hospital or surgery center.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
- You may be given antibiotics before surgery to help prevent infection.
- You will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during your surgery. Tell your caregiver if you or anyone in your family has had a problem using anesthesia in the past.
What will happen:
The surgeon will make between 1 and 4 small incisions on your abdomen or navel. He will insert the surgical tools and laparoscope into the incisions. The camera attached to the laparoscope will display images of your abdominal organs on a nearby monitor. The surgeon will fill your abdomen with carbon dioxide gas to make it swell. This allows him to see your organs better. It also gives him more room to move the surgical tools and laparoscope around. Your surgeon will search for and remove gallstones in and around your gallbladder. He will carefully separate your gallbladder and remove it through an incision, usually the navel incision. The carbon dioxide will be released from your abdomen. Your surgeon may inject medicine into your abdomen or apply it to your incisions to reduce your pain after surgery. Your incisions will be stitched or closed with adhesive strips, then covered with bandages.
After your surgery:
You will be taken to a recovery room until you are fully awake. Caregivers will watch you closely for any problems. Tell your caregiver if you are in pain or feel like you might vomit. Your caregiver may help position you on your left side with your arm behind your back and your leg flexed. This helps release any carbon dioxide gas that remains in your abdomen. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. You may be able to go home later the same day, or you may stay in the hospital overnight.
Contact a caregiver if
- You have a fever.
- You cannot make it to your surgery on time.
- You have questions or concerns about your surgery, medicine, or care.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- You cannot stop vomiting.
- Your vomit has blood or bile (yellowish-brown or green fluid) in it.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.