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Learn about gallbladder surgery and understand your options
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Your gallbladder is a small organ that stores bile, a digestive juice your liver produces to break down fat in food. After you eat, the gallbladder releases stored bile into your small intestine through narrow tubes called ducts. Gallbladders can become inflamed (called cholecystitis) and ducts can be blocked, often because of small hard masses called gallstones that form, producing symptoms that range from mild discomfort to intense pain
Understanding your options
To reduce your risk of inflammation of the gallbladder and blockage of the ducts, your doctor may recommend making adjustments to your diet, such as reducing fat intake.1 Options for an inflamed gallbladder may include fasting, fluids through a vein in your arm, antibiotics, and pain medications.2
Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the gallstones, or even to remove your gallbladder.
Surgeons can perform gallbladder removal surgery, called a cholecystectomy, through open surgery, which requires a large incision in your abdomen, or a minimally invasive approach. Today most gallbladder surgeries are performed through minimally invasive surgery1 using a laparoscopic approach or robotic-assisted surgery, possibly with da Vinci® technology.
Doctors perform minimally invasive laparoscopic or robotic-assisted surgeries through a few small incisions or a single small incision near the belly button. To remove the gallbladder with laparoscopic surgery, doctors use special long-handled tools while viewing magnified images from the laparoscope (camera) on a video screen.
How da Vinci works
Surgeons using da Vinci technology can remove your gallbladder through either a few small incisions (cuts) or through one small incision in your belly button using Single-Site® technology. During surgery, your surgeon sits at a console next to you and operates using tiny instruments.
A camera provides a high-definition, 3D magnified view inside your body. Every hand movement your surgeon makes is translated by the da Vinci system in real time to bend and rotate the instruments with precision.
It’s important to remember that Intuitive does not provide medical advice. After discussing all options with your doctor, only you and your doctor can determine whether surgery with da Vinci is appropriate for your situation. You should always ask your surgeon about his or her training, experience, and patient outcomes.
Why surgery with da Vinci?
Robotic-assisted surgery with a da Vinci system gives surgeons access to technology features that include:
- A high-definition 3D camera system with high magnification that provides immersive viewing of the gallbladder and surrounding area.
- Firefly® fluorescence imaging which offers visualization beyond the human eye by activating injected dye to light up and clearly show the gallbladder and surrounding structures, including the ducts.
- Da Vinci Single-Site® technology, which allows surgeons to make just one incision near the belly button, providing patients with nearly scarless results.
All surgery involves risk. You can read more about associated risks of cholecystectomy here.
Questions you can ask your doctor
- What medical options are available for my gallbladder pain?
- What happens if I don’t get surgery?
- What are the differences between open, laparoscopic, and robotic-assisted surgery?
How will I feel after surgery?
More about general surgery with da Vinci
Robotic-assisted surgery with da Vinci technology is used in many different types of procedures by general surgeons.
Gallbladder Removal Surgery (Cholecystectomy) Patient Information from SAGES. SAGES. Web. 21 January 2019 https://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-gallbladder-removal-cholecystectomy-from-sages/
Cholecystitis Diagnosis & Treatment. Mayo Clinic. Web. 21 January 2019 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cholecystitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364895
Gallbladder, Cholecystectomy, Open. StatPearls. Web. 14 January 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448176/
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Important Safety Information
Patients should talk to their doctors to decide if da Vinci® surgery is right for them. Patients and doctors should review all available information on nonsurgical and surgical options and associated risks in order to make an informed decision.
Serious complications may occur in any surgery, including da Vinci surgery, up to and including death. Serious risks include, but are not limited to, injury to tissues and organs and conversion to other surgical techniques, which could result in a longer operative time and/or increased complications. For Important Safety Information, including surgical risks, indications, and considerations and contraindications for use, please also refer to www.intuitive.com/safety.
Individuals' outcomes may depend on a number of factors, including but not limited to patient characteristics, disease characteristics, and/or surgeon experience.
Product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intuitive Surgical, or of their respective holders.
©2019 Intuitive Surgical, Inc. All rights reserved. Product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. The information on this website is intended for a United States audience only.
This website does not provide medical advice. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
The materials on this website are for general educational information only. Information you read on this website cannot replace the relationship that you have with your healthcare professional. Intuitive Surgical does not practice medicine or provide medical services or advice and the information on this website should not be considered medical advice. You should always talk to your healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Health information changes quickly. Therefore, it is always best to consult with your healthcare provider.
If you have questions about the da Vinci® Surgical System or about surgical procedures conducted with the da Vinci Surgical System, consult a surgeon that has experience with the da Vinci Surgical System. A list of surgeons that have experience with the da Vinci Surgical System can be found in the Surgeon Locator.