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Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is surgery to remove gallstones and your child's gallbladder. You will get care instructions to follow at home. These will include activities your child can do or should avoid. You will get instructions for how to care for the surgery area and check for infections. You will also be told which foods and liquids to give your child. Follow all instructions to help your child heal after surgery.



Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has abdominal pain or bloating and vomiting.
  • Your child cannot stop vomiting.
  • Your child's bowel movements are bloody or black.
  • Your child's abdomen is swollen, hard, and painful.
  • Your child has a fever over 101°F (38°C) or chills.

Call your child's doctor or surgeon if:

  • Your child has pain or nausea that is not relieved by medicine.
  • Your child has redness and swelling around his or her incisions.
  • Your child has blood or pus coming from his or her incisions.
  • Your child is constipated or has diarrhea.
  • Your child's skin or eyes are yellow, or his or her bowel movements are pale.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's surgery, condition, or care.


Your child may need the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 18 years. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he or she has the flu or a fever and takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin or salicylates.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Have your child take deep breaths and cough as directed:

Your child's surgeon will tell you if your child should do this to lower the risk for a lung infection. Have your child take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. Then he or she should let the air out and cough strongly. Your child may be given an incentive spirometer to help him or her take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your child's mouth. Have him or her take a slow, deep breath. Then he or she should let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour, or as directed.

How to use and Incentive Spirometer

Care for the surgery area:

  • Remove the bandages as directed. Your child's surgeon may tell you to remove the bandages the day after surgery.
  • Keep the area clean and dry. Your child may take a shower the day after your surgery. Do not let your child take baths, swim, or use a hot tub until the surgeon says it is okay.
  • Check for signs of infection each day. Check the area for swelling, red streaks, or pus. Tell your child's surgeon right away if you see any of these.
  • Have your child hug a pillow against the surgery area before he or she sneezes or coughs. This will help prevent pain and protect the surgery area.

What to feed your child:

  • Feed your child low-fat foods for 4 to 6 weeks while his or her body learns to digest fat without a gallbladder. Slowly increase the amount of fat he or she eats.
  • Offer your child more liquids. Ask how much liquid to give him or her and which liquids are best.

When your child can return to school and other activities:

  • Have your child rest often and slowly increase his or her activity level each day. If an activity causes pain, your child should wait several days before he or she does that activity again.
  • Do not let your teen drive for the first 24 hours after surgery. His or her surgeon will tell you when it is okay to drive after the first 24 hours. This is usually after your child has stopped taking narcotic pain medicine for a few days.
  • Do not let your child lift anything heavier than 10 pounds until directed.
  • Your child may return to school or other activities when pain is controlled and he or she feels comfortable. This is usually 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Your child's surgeon can help create a return to sports plan, if needed.

Follow up with your child's doctor or surgeon as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

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