Definition of Open cholecystectomy

Reviewed on 3/29/2021

Open cholecystectomy: Surgery in which the abdomen is opened to permit cholecystectomy -- removal of the gallbladder.

This operation has been employed for over 100 years and is a safe and effective method for treating symptomatic gallstones, ones that are causing significant symptoms. At surgery, direct visualization and palpation of the gallbladder, bile duct, cystic duct, and blood vessels allow safe and accurate dissection and removal of the gallbladder. Intra-operative cholangiography has been variably used as an adjunct to this operation. The rate of common bile duct exploration for choledocholithiasis (gallstones in the bile duct) varies from 3% in series of patients having elective operations to 21% in series that include all patients. Major complications of open cholecystectomy are infrequent and include common duct injury, bleeding, biloma, and infections.

Open cholecystectomy is the standard against which other treatments must be compared and remains a safe surgical alternative. See also: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy.


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