What to expect

Gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy)

Pre-assessment clinic

About 2 weeks before your surgery, you usually go to the pre-assessment clinic at the hospital. At this clinic, you have:

  • swabs (when we use a big cotton bud to take samples from your body and test them for any germs)
  • blood tests
  • X-rays
  • heart tracing to check your heart's rhythm and electrical activity (an electrocardiogram or ECG)

A member of the surgical team can answer any questions about the procedure to remove your gallbladder. 

Going to hospital

You go to hospital on the same day as your surgery or sometimes the day before. We ask you to confirm that you still want to have the surgery.

If you smoke, please stop smoking for at least 24 hours before your surgery. This reduces the risk of chest problems under the anaesthetic. 

If you would like help to give up smoking, please speak to your nurse or call our stop smoking service.

During gallbladder removal surgery

We give you a general anaesthetic. This means that you are asleep during the surgery and do not feel any pain.

A laparoscope is a small thin tube with a camera on the end. We put this tube through a small cut made near your belly button. 

The laparoscope lets us see the inside of your body on screens in the operating room. We put carbon dioxide gas into your stomach through the laparoscope. This helps us to get a clearer view of your gallbladder. 

We make other cuts in the right upper part of your stomach. Then we put surgical tools into these small cuts and use the tools to remove your gallbladder.

Leaving hospital

You are likely to have some discomfort after surgery, but we give you pain relief for this. You can read more about managing pain after surgery

Many people go home on the same day as their surgery, but some people need to stay in hospital overnight. 

Please try to make your own travel arrangements home. If this is not possible, please speak to your nurse. You might qualify for our patient transport service.

If you go home on the same day as your surgery, you will need a responsible adult to take you home. This is because you are recovering after a general anaesthetic. The responsible adult also needs to stay with you overnight.

Results of testing your gallbladder

After removing your gallbladder, we send it to the laboratory to be examined. Your doctor gets a full report with your test results after 1 to 2 weeks.

If there are any problems, your doctor will write to you. If there are no problems, you will not need any follow-up appointments at the hospital.

Resource number: 1661/VER6
Last reviewed: March 2022
Next review: March 2025

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Contact us

Please call us if you have any questions about gallstones or your treatment for gallstones.

Phone: 020 7188 2673 for clinical nurse specialists

Phone: 020 7188 8875 for the consultant's secretary 

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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