Cholecystectomy Overview

Cholecystectomy Overview

Every year one million more Americans are diagnosed with gallstones, joining the 20 million others who already have the condition.20 Until 1990, surgical patients with the painful disease were put through a 5-day hospital stay and a 3-to-6 -week recuperation period.20

In less than a decade, minimally invasive cholecystectomy (laparoscopic surgery) has become the dominant gallbladder removal procedure, which has accompanied a major shift to outpatient status. In fact, because of the patient demand, clinical evidence and reduced cost, laparoscopic cholecystectomy represents an ideal case study for adopting a minimally invasive approach.

Soon after its introduction in the mid-1980s, laparoscopic cholecystectomy was quickly adopted as a safe and effective alternative to traditional "open" cholecystectomy. Since that time, it has become the treatment of choice for symptomatic gallstones, with approximately 1.2 million laparoscopic procedures in the U.S. per year according to national data.460

The "lap chole" as it is known, eliminates the need for a large incision through the abdominal wall. Instead, the surgeon needs only to make 4 small ¾-inch incisions into which a laparoscope (miniature camera) is inserted along with specialized surgical instruments. The surgeon uses a monitor (with a magnified image of the surgical area) to view the dissection and removal of the gallbladder. This can often be performed as an outpatient procedure, further reducing the overall cost.

With equal outcomes to a traditional “open” procedure, patients who undergo the minimally invasive laparoscopic cholecystectomy may experience:

  • A shorter hospital stay (or none if performed as an outpatient procedure).
  • Faster recovery.
  • Fewer complications.466
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