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A cholycystectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the gall bladder (cholycyst), generally because gallstones are causing infection or pain in a patient. Removal of the gall bladder is the only effective treatment for gallstones as they will return if they are merely removed.
Cholycystectomy was one of the first surgical procedures developed after the development of anesthetics. Before anesthetics, the surgeon could not enter and work on structures within the abdomen fast enough to prevent the patient dying from shock so, although severe cholycystitis was could be diagnosed, it could not be treated. With anesthetics, the surgeon could open a large incision in the abdomen to reach the gall bladder and safely remove it while repairing or avoiding damage to the liver and common bile duct.
Until the last decade or so, the large incision method was the only way to perform the procedure. However, this usually meant a long recovery time - a week in hospital followed by three more of limited mobility. However, the procedure can now be performed lapriscopically, with four small incisions replacing the large incision. Patients can now be released the day of surgery with a 7-14 day recovery period at home. However, laproscopic surgery poses a somewhat higher risk of complications and is avoided if the bile duct cannot be located or the patient is in the middle of an attack of gallstones.
In Finding Judas, House ordered that a cholycystectomy be performed on a five year old girl suffering from gallstones and obtained a court order to let the father overrule the mother's concerns over the surgery.