The first laparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed by French surgeon Philippe Mouret in 1987. Since then it has gone on to become one of the most commonly performed general surgical operations.
The operation is performed using a laparoscope (telescopic camera) and three 5mm operating ports. The majority of patients stay in hospital overnight and go home the following day. I have performed a number of day case laparoscopic cholecystectomies and this is perfectly acceptable if the patient has an appropriate level of care at home. The majority of patients are able to return to work after about a week.
In addition to removing the gall bladder laparoscopically, it is also possible to laparoscopically remove gallstones that have escaped from the gall bladder and have lodged within the biliary system. These gallstones can produce symptoms such as jaundice or recurrent infection. In a small percentage of patients, these stones are detected as incidental findings during their laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
Evidence suggests that the majority of these stones will pass spontaneously without causing any difficulties. While it is possible to remove these stones laparoscopically, in some cases this is not technically possible or may not be advisable for other reasons, in which case I may recommend a procedure such as an ERCP in the post-operative phase. In this procedure, a camera is passed down through the stomach to the bottom end of the bile duct and the gallstones are removed under x-ray control. This is usually performed as either a day case or an overnight stay and involves some sedation but not a full general anaesthetic.