Cholecystectomy - Medical Negligence Solicitors - Compensation Claims


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Cholecystectomy Overview

An open cholecystectomy is a surgery performed by a surgeon to remove a diseased gallbladder through an incision in the upper and outer abdomen. These days, an open cholecystectomy is only done in situations of gallbladder cancer or in the case of failure of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Few people have primary open gallbladder surgeries. The procedure only lasts about 1-2 hours but is slightly longer when done laparoscopically.

After the gallbladder is removed, the bile then normally flows directly from the liver through to the common bile duct when it used to flow through the gallbladder first. These means that there is no storage of bile in the gallbladder and no gallstones can be formed. The surgery has no effect on digestion.

After the surgery, you will stay 2-4 days after the procedure in the hospital. Most people are able to go back to their regular activities after 4-6 weeks. Open surgery involves a more painful surgery than laparoscopic surgery and the length of recovery time is longer. You recover from laparoscopic surgery in about 2 weeks. The incision is relatively large in an open gallbladder surgery, about 4 inches in length. You don’t need to have any special diet or precautions following your cholecystectomy.

There are four main reasons why a person would have a cholecystectomy. These are the four main reasons:

  • Cholelithiasis-gallstones in the gallbladder
  • Cholecystitis-inflammation of the gallbladder
  • Choledocholithiasis-gallstones in the bile duct
  • Pancreatitis-inflammation of the pancreas

Open surgery is generally open when a laparoscopic surgery fails. Other reasons include the following:

  • Severely inflamed gallbladder or bile duct.
  • Peritonitis or inflammation of the abdominal lining.
  • Portal hypertension or high blood pressure in the portal veins. This is usually secondary to cirrhosis of the liver.
  • If you are in the third trimester of pregnancy.
  • You have major bleeding disorder, from medications or from a clotting disorder.
  • If you have scar tissue from many different abdominal surgeries.
  • If you have abnormal abdominal anatomy.

In about 5 to 10 out of every 100 gallbladder surgeries are open gallbladder surgeries because of a failure of a laparoscopic procedure and the rest are done because of unexpected scar tissue, inflammation, injury to the gallbladder or bleeding from the site.

Risks and complications of an open gallbladder surgery include the following:

  • Excessive damage to the common bile duct
  • Excessive bleeding from the surgical site
  • Surgical wound infection, which can lead to peritonitis
  • Injuries to the intestines, liver or major abdominal vessels
  • Blood clots to the legs that can then spread to the lungs and cause sudden death
  • Pneumonia related to the longer recovery period in open surgery
  • General anesthesia risks
  • A leak from the bile duct
  • Death from blood clots
  • Heart problems
  • Pancreatitis

Following the gallbladder surgery, many patients will still have ongoing abdominal symptoms, including pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is known as post-cholecystectomy syndrome and it eventually passes in time. Overall, your risk of surgery depends on the type of health you have before the surgical procedure. The skill of the surgeon comes into play as well.

Prior to the procedure, you can avoid smoking for up to a week and avoid anticoagulants like aspirin and warfarin for a week before the procedure. Do not eat or drink liquids for around 12 hours before the surgical time. Prepare to have someone take you to the surgery, although they do not have to stay the duration. They need to be available to have you picked up if you are having a laparoscopic surgery.

Prepare to have a hospital stay, even if you might not need it. Laparoscopic surgery can turn into an open procedure depending on the circumstances.

Cholecystectomy Negligence Solicitors

For honest and independent legal advice contact our legal professionals today. If you have suffered personal injury and you fear you may have been the victim of incompetence there is no time for delay. In order to know your options you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible. Our surgery medical negligence solicitors operate a no charge service whereby you can meet us in person or chat over the telephone with one of our experts and obtain initial advice. If you subsequently decide to proceed no further then that is your right and you will not be charged for our initial advice.


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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here