What is an open cholecystectomy?

A cholecystectomy is the removal of the gall bladder through a cut on the right side of the abdomen.
Sometimes during surgery an examination of the bile duct is required to look for gallstones. To do this a Contrast medium is injected and X-rays are taken of the bile duct.


This procedure will require an anaesthetic.

What are the risks of this specific procedure?

There are risks and complications with this procedure.
They include but are not limited to the following:

General risks:

  • Infection can occur, requiring antibiotics and further treatment.
  • Bleeding could occur and may require a return to the operating room. Bleeding is more common if you have been taking blood thinning drugs such as Warfarin, Asprin, Clopidogrel (Plavix or Iscover) or Dipyridamole (Persantin or Asasantin).
  • Small areas of the lung can collapse, increasing the risk of chest infection. This may need antibiotics and physiotherapy.
  • Increased risk in obese people of wound infection, chest infection, heart and lung complications, and thrombosis.
  • Heart attack or stroke could occur due to the strain on the heart.
  • Blood clot in the leg (DVT) causing pain and swelling. In rare cases, part of the clot may break off and go to the lungs.
  • Death as a result of this procedure is possible.

Specific risks:

  • Deep bleeding in the abdominal cavity could occur and this may need fluid replacement or further surgery.
  • Some stones may be found outside the gall bladder in the ducts, which may need further surgical treatment.
  • Damage may occur to the bile ducts near the liver and gall bladder with long term problems with blockage.
  • Difficulty passing urine after the operation and may need a catheter passed into the bladder.
  • Infections such as pus collections can occur in the abdominal cavity. This may need surgical drainage.
  • In some people, healing of the wound may be abnormal and the wound can be thickened and red and the scar may be painful.
  • A weakness can occur in the wound with the development of a hernia.
  • Adhesions (bands of scar tissue) may form and cause bowel obstruction. This can be a short term or a long term complication and may need further surgery.
  • Persistent intolerance to fatty foods may occur after the procedure, which can cause loose bowel motions (diarrhea) and flatulence.
  • An allergic reaction to the injected Contrast is rare.