The gallbladder is an organ that sits underneath the liver in the right upper portion of the abdomen. The gallbladder acts as a storage reservoir of a substance called bile. Bile is produced in the liver, is secreted down the bile duct and into the small intestine; bile helps your body absorb nutrients from the food you eat during the digestive process that occurs in the small intestine.
There are many conditions that may require surgery to remove the gallbladder, the most common of which is gallstones. Gallstones form when bile crystallizes inside the gallbladder. Gallstones are typically treated with surgical removal of the gallbladder (called cholecystectomy); the entire gallbladder is removed to prevent future gallstones from forming and causing similar problems.
Gallbladder removal is typically done "laparoscopically", which means the surgery is performed with small incisions and a telescopic camera. Your surgeon will remove the gallbladder by isolating the duct and artery that supply the gallbladder, clipping and dividing these structures, and dissecting the gallbladder off the undersurface of the liver. The surgery may take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to perform. After the surgery, most patients can go home the same day, after an hour or two recovering in the recovery room. Laparoscopic surgery to remove the gallbladder is beneficial as most patients have a very short recovery, with less pain and earlier return to regular activities.
Other conditions that sometimes require gallbladder removal include biliary dyskinesia (a condition where the gallbladder does not function appropriately), pancreatitis, polyps, and cancer.