Cholecystectomy Side Effects

The possible side effects of cholecystectomy are not a matter of major concern. This HealthHearty post has more information on the side effects and complications associated with cholecystectomy.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
The surgical method used for removing the gallbladder is known as cholecystectomy. The main function of the gallbladder is to collect bile, a digestive juice produced by the liver. Sometimes, due to formation of gallstones, the natural flow of bile is obstructed and it results in abdominal pain. Doctors opt for the surgical options only after the other methods of treatment for gallstones fail to show any results. There are two different methods of gallbladder surgery―laparoscopic cholecystectomy and open cholecystectomy. Nowadays, doctors rarely opt for the open procedure mainly because the recovery time for this method is much longer than the laparoscopic method. Basically, it is a safe surgery with minimal side effects that are mostly temporary.
Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy Side Effects
Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery involves minimum invasion with just four small cuts in the abdomen through which surgical tools and a video camera is inserted and the surgery is carried out. After the surgery, any possible side effects are as follows:
Effects of Anesthesia: Certain symptoms may show up which are associated with the effect of the drug that is used for sedation during the surgery. They are excessive thirst feelings, fatigue, weakness in muscles, loss of control in the muscles, headache, fever, sore throat, etc. These effects are harmless and subside after some time. The intensity of the symptoms vary from person to person as the response to a particular drug is different for every individual.
Abdominal Pain: This is one of the most common side effects of cholecystectomy and it lasts for the first few days. This occurs mainly because the organs of the abdominal cavity are shifted during surgery and some minor bruising may have taken place in the process. Simple recreational activities in the first few days can worsen the pain. Strenuous activities in the first week also aggravate the pain. Initially, even breathing could be a painful task. Deep breathing can be helpful in this regard.
Digestive Problems: Even though the gallbladder is not an indispensable part of the digestive system, some patients may experience an upset stomach in the days following the surgery. It includes symptoms like nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. It happens as the bile is no longer get regulated by the gallbladder. As a result, the bile salts tend to cause irritation in the digestive tract. The condition usually lasts for one week or so. Eating fiber-rich foods like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc help in bringing about improvement. Some medication may be prescribed to bring relief from this condition.
Other Complications
Like any other surgery, complications of cholecystectomy cannot ruled out. One of the most serious complications is injury to the bile duct. It can result in leakage or tear and has the potential to cause damage to the liver. In some of the rare cases, the surgeon may miss a few gallstones or they can spill into the abdominal cavity. These spilled stones will further cause obstruction, collection of abscess or fistula. All such cases have to be corrected with the help of open abdominal surgery. At the time of surgery, the abdominal cavity is inflated by pumping carbon dioxide. Some of the gas is likely to stay inside the body and give rise to bloating. As a result, one feels excessive discomfort in the abdomen till the gas is expelled. Other possible complications are bleeding, blood clots, bile leak, infection, pneumonia, etc.
Prior to the surgery, patients should have an open discussion with the surgeon about the risk factors and side effects of the operation. Chances of complications are found to be low in those patients whose general health conditions are good. Moreover, post-surgery, changes in dietary habits help minimize side effects. It includes eating smaller meals, reduction in intake of saturated fat, avoiding alcohol beverages, etc.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.