Skip to Content

Open Cholecystectomy


  • Open cholecystectomy (koe-le-sis-TEK-toe-mee) is surgery to treat gallbladder and bile duct diseases. These diseases include cholecystitis (swelling of the gallbladder) and cholelithiasis (stones in the gallbladder or bile ducts). The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ found under your liver on the right side of your upper abdomen (stomach). It stores bile that comes from the liver and helps in the digestion of food. Bile is carried by the bile duct to the intestines. If left untreated, gallstones or biliary sludge may block the flow of bile. This can cause more swelling, infection, and abdominal pain.
    Gallbladder, Liver and Pancreas
  • With open cholecystectomy, the gallbladder is removed through an incision (cut) in the abdomen. Sometimes, your caregiver will do open surgery after having problems during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is surgery that uses several small incisions and special instruments to remove your gallbladder. With open cholecystectomy, your symptoms may be relieved and further damage to other organs prevented.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Ask your caregiver when you need to return to have your incision checked. You will also need to have stitches or drains removed.

Bathing with stitches:

Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.


  • You have chills, a cough, a sore throat, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have nausea (upset stomach) or vomiting (throwing up).
  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or passing urine.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You have a fever.
  • You feel so full and cannot burp or vomit (throw up).
  • Your vomit is greenish in color, looks like coffee grounds, or has blood in it.
  • You have abdominal pain that does not go away or gets worse.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, has pus coming from it, or if it starts to come apart.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.