The most common abdominal operation in General Surgery is laparoscopic cholecystectomy, or removal of the gallbladder.  Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder) is usually first noticed as bloating and nausea, particularly after eating fatty food.  The symptoms are mild and intermittent at first, but over time they become more frequent and prolonged, until everything you eat makes you feel full and uncomfortable.  Most patients are not diagnosed until they have a severe episode of upper abdominal pain which is associated with nausea and vomiting.  Sometimes the attack is so severe the person goes to the emergency room.  The only way to make the symptoms stop is by removing the gallbladder.  This operation is usually done as an outpatient, and I tell patients to plan one week off work afterwards.  Cholecystectomy is safe and fairly easy if performed early in the course of the disease.  In the emergency setting, or if the patient has been ignoring symptoms for many months, there is a greater chance of needing the old-fashioned, open gallbladder surgery, with a prolonged recovery period.  For people with typical gallbladder symptoms, I recommend that the patient go ahead and have the operation sooner rather than later, which will speed recovery and decrease the chance of postoperative problems.

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