A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to remove a diseased gallbladder. Removing the gallbladder using a laparoscope allows direct visualization of the gallbladder and the surrounding tissues through smaller more precise incisions.

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Why it’s done

Your veterinarian may recommend a cholecystectomy if your pet has:

  • Abnormal liver test results
  • Physical exam findings of jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Symptoms of gallbladder disease, including nausea, decreased appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and abdominal pain
  • Ultrasound findings of abnormal changes in your pets gallbladder

How to prepare for your pet’s procedure

Before your pet’s laparoscopic cholecystectomy, you will meet with one of our specialists to talk about the procedure and what to expect.

When you meet with our team, please bring a list of all medications that your pet is currently taking, including over the counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Before your pet’s procedure, you may be asked to discontinue giving certain medications that can increase the risk of bleeding.

This is a good time to ask questions about the procedure and make sure you understand the risks and benefits.

Preoperative diagnostics and tests

Before your pet’s procedure the following may be indicated:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • A comprehensive blood panel
  • Liver specific blood panel, if necessary

General Instructions for the Day of Surgery

  • Give your pet nothing by mouth after midnight the night before. This means that all food and water should be withheld.
  • Please arrive for pet’s admission promptly at your scheduled arrival time.
  • You will be asked to sign both a Surgical Consent Form as well as an Estimate, indicating your understanding of the procedure, risks, and associated costs.

What happens during a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure?

Your pet will be given a general anesthetic. Special instruments, including a camera, are passed through small ½ inch incisions into the abdomen. The specialists can visualize the gallbladder and remove it. The gallbladder is then withdrawn from the abdomen through one of the small incisions. The small incisions are closed with dissolvable stitches under the skin.


Complications associated with a laparoscopic cholecystectomy can include the following:

  • Rupture of the gallbladder
  • Infection (Peritonitis)
  • Pancreatitis
  • Adhesions

After the procedure

  • Following the procedure, you will be given a phone call with an update on your pet’s recovery.
  • Please plan for your pet to remain hospitalized for pain management, supportive care, and monitoring for 1-2 days post operatively.
  • Once discharged the following instructions are advised:
  • Please remove the bandage from your pet’s intravenous catheter site 10 to 15 minutes after arriving home.
  •  Some abdominal tenderness is common for 3-5 days following laparoscopic surgery.
  • It is important to restrict your pet’s activity for the next 3-5 days while the incision is healing. Walks should be short and your pet should always be on a leash. Please do not let your pet rough house with other animals during this time.
  • Suture removal is generally not necessary, as dissolving stitches will often be placed.
  • Please monitor the incision for any signs of heat, pain, swelling, or discharge. Should you notice any of these signs, it may be an indication of infection. Please call Salt River if you notice a problem.
  • Licking or scratching at the incision will dramatically increase the chances of an infection or that the incision will open up. To prevent this from happening, please watch your pet closely for scratching or licking at the incision. If this occurs, an e-collar should be placed.


The gallbladder, tissue, and bile samples will be submitted to specialized laboratories for evaluation. Including histopathology and cultures.

The final biopsy results can take up to 2 weeks. Once the final results have returned and a treatment plan has been devised, our specialists will call you to discuss the findings and recommendations.

Follow up

A recheck examination is required in 10-14 days.