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Treatment / Cholecystostomy Tube

Cholecystostomy Tube

Your gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that is located just below your liver. Its main purpose is to store and concentrate bile, which is the liquid responsible for carrying toxins away from your liver and into the gallbladder. Your gallbladder then releases the bile into your small intestine, where it helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients into your bloodstream.

When your gallbladder becomes inflamed, it is known as acute cholecystitis. This condition is caused by gallstones or biliary sludge blocking the cystic duct (the main opening of the gallbladder) and requires treatment before serious complications occur. Inflammation can cause a buildup of fluid in the gallbladder, and chronic inflammation may damage the organ enough so that it will need to be removed.

What is a Cholecystostomy?

A cholecystostomy is a minimally invasive procedure used to drain the fluid buildup in the gallbladder. It is an image-guided procedure that uses x-ray or ultrasound technology to assist in the placement of the drainage tube. A cholecystostomy is typically used if your gallbladder cannot be removed because of severe infection or another health condition that would make the procedure unsafe. It may also be used prior to surgery, as draining the fluid can reduce swelling as well as infection, and make the gallbladder removal surgery easier and safer.

What to Expect From Your Cholecystostomy Procedure and Recovery

The cholecystostomy procedure is performed by an interventional radiologist using either general anesthesia or local anesthetic with IV sedation. A small incision is made in your abdomen above your gallbladder, and a tube connected to a drainage bag is placed into the gallbladder. At this time, if you have gallstones blocking the cystic duct, they will be removed.

Depending on the severity of your gallbladder inflammation, you will remain in the hospital until the fluid is sufficiently drained. If the cholecystostomy was performed in preparation for gallbladder removal surgery, your surgery will have to wait until you have recovered and the inflammation has decreased. You will be given IV fluids to keep you hydrated and give your gallbladder a chance to rest until you are ready to go back to a normal diet.

In most cases, the drainage tube will still be in place when you go home. You will need to rest and get help with daily activities while you recover. Your doctor will give you specific instructions about limitations and recommendations for a safe, healthy recovery.

Risks of Cholecystostomy

Like any treatment, there are risks involved in a cholecystostomy, including:

  • Inability to control infection in the gallbladder
  • Need for antibiotics
  • Placement of an additional drain
  • Leakage in the drain tube
  • Fluid may not drain completely
  • Allergic reaction to medication

If you experience fever, nausea, vomiting, unusual pain in your abdomen or the drainage tube comes out, call your doctor immediately.

If you have been diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, and require fluid drainage from your gallbladder to treat the condition, call IVC today at 503-612-0498 and schedule an appointment with one of our interventional radiologists.

* This information about Cholecystostomy Tubes was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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