Cholecystectomy – Surgery of the Gall Bladder

The gall bladder is a small sac near the liver that collects and secretes bile and bile salts to aid in digestion of fat. The gall bladder collects bile from the liver and then secretes it into the small intestine via the common bile duct when the pet eats. The most common disorder requiring removal of the gall bladder is either trauma or a condition called a mucocele. A mucocele occurs when there is decreased bile flow, decreased motility of the gall bladder, altered water absorption or hyper secretion of mucus. The gall bladder becomes distended and bile flow is obstructed.

Clinical signs with a mucocele can be nonspecific such as inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss. In severe cases jaundice, or yellowing of the skin and mucus membranes develops. If the gall bladder ruptures, the pet may become gravely ill and may develop abdominal distension with pain.

Surgery to remove the gall bladder is called a cholecystectomy. Animals can live without their gall bladders just as people can. The bile enters the intestine at a slow constant rate instead of in concentrated bursts.

Delay in surgery has lead to a high mortality rate with this disease ­ as high as 25 to 35%. Early detection and surgery can increase the chances for a favorable outcome.