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Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal in Children: What to Expect at Home

Position of gallbladder under the liver, with detail of surgical tools being used to remove gallbladder

Your Child's Recovery

After surgery, your child will likely feel weak and tired for several days.

Your child's belly may be swollen. There might be pain in the belly or shoulders for about 24 hours. Your child may have gas or need to burp a lot at first.

A few children get diarrhea.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for your child at home?

Activity

  • Have your child rest when he or she feels tired.
  • Ask your doctor about what type of daily activity is safe for your child.
  • Allow your child's body to heal. Don't let your child move quickly or lift anything heavy until after you see the doctor for your child's first follow-up appointment.
  • Many children are able to return to normal activities 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. It may be longer for more active sports.

Diet

  • Your child can eat a normal diet, but avoid fatty foods for about 1 month. Fatty foods include hamburger, whole milk, cheese, and many snack foods. If your child's stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids. If your child has to limit fluids because of a health problem, talk with your doctor before you increase how much your child drinks.
  • If your child has diarrhea, try avoiding spicy foods, dairy products, and fatty foods. You can also watch to see if certain foods cause it, and stop giving them to your child. If your child has diarrhea for more than 2 weeks, talk to the doctor.
  • If your child's bowel movements are not regular right after surgery, you can help him or her to avoid constipation and straining. Have your child drink plenty of water. The doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.

Incision care

  • If there are strips of tape on the cuts (incisions) the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • Wash the area daily with warm water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
  • You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it oozes fluid or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.

Hygiene

  • Your child may shower 24 to 48 hours after surgery. Pat the incisions dry. Your child should not swim or take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child is short of breath.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child is sick to his or her stomach or can't drink fluids.
  • Your child has pain that does not get better after he or she takes pain medicine.
  • Your child cannot pass stools or gas.
  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • Bright red blood has soaked through the bandage over the incision.
  • The incision comes open.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter G270 in the search box to learn more about "Laparoscopic Gallbladder Removal in Children: What to Expect at Home".

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.