Medical Q&As

Gallbladder surgery - large scar?

I had my gall bladder removed and I have a large scar on my abdomen. I did not have keyhole surgery. Can you tell me what size the gall bladder is?

Presumably you underwent a traditional cholecystectomy, which does involve a large abdominal incision. The traditional incision can be between 5 to 9 inches long and needs to be that size in order for the surgeon to be able to get good access to the gallbladder. It is also important that the surgeon should have a sufficiently large incision so that the gallbladder can be removed without fear of rupturing it, which could result in spilling the gallbladder contents into the abdomen. If that were to happen peritonitis could result, which is a potentially serious complication of cholecystectomy. Therefore the size of the incision has more to do with obtaining good access to the organ and removing it intact and safely rather than needing a big opening because the organ is large. In fact the gallbladder is not very big and on average is about the same size as a small pear. The traditional cholecystectomy has been largely superseded by keyhole surgery but not every patient is suitable for such surgery. For example, people with infected gallbladders are probably best dealt with through the traditional approach. Also those with internal scarring from previous abdominal surgery are also best dealt with in the traditional way. It is also worth noting that sometimes the keyhole approach has to be abandoned if technical difficulties arise during the operation and the surgeon then has to resort to the traditional procedure.