Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 12/17/2016Updated: 08/19/2021
Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
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What is Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction?

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that sits beneath the liver, on its right side. The gallbladder’s main function is to collect and concentrate bile, a digestive fluid produced by the liver. This digestive fluid travels through tubular channels where it reaches the small intestine after a canine consumes a meal. A gallbladder obstruction commonly occurs in these ducts from the salt component of bile. 

A veterinarian can remove a gallbladder obstruction in a number of ways, but the most effective treatment of gallstones is the complete removal of the gallbladder organ. Surgical removal of the gallbladder is termed, laparoscopic cholecystectomy. A laparoscopic cholecystectomy can be performed by a licensed veterinarian with appropriate surgical equipment. 

Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction Procedure in Dogs

The dog will need to be fasting (no food or water) the night before surgery and the day of surgery. Prior to anesthesia, the dog’s blood will be tested to ensure his/her organs are functioning properly and undiagnosed diseases are absent from the blood work. A pre-anesthetic, pain medication and antibiotic are injection to the dog prior to being taken to the operating room. 

Port & Instrument Placement 

  • The dog is placed in dorsal recumbency on the surgical table with legs tied away from the midline for stabilization purposes.¬†
  • The abdomen is shaved and prepared with chlorhexidine in regions lateral to the superior iliac spine.¬†
  • The operative field is draped.¬†
  • A 1 ¬Ĺ cm longitudinal incision is made at the inferior aspect of the umbilicus, through the rectus sheath‚Äôs subcutaneous fat.¬†
  • A Kocher clamp grasps the reflection of linea alba onto the umbilicus in an elevating fashion.¬†
  • A No. 15 blade is them used to make an incision into the linea alba, 1.2 cm in length.¬†
  • Using 0 polyglactin suture, two U stitches are placed on both sides of the fascial incision using a curved needle.¬†
  • The peritoneum is elevated between two clamps and an 11 mm blunt Hasson trocar is inserted into the abdominal cavity. The abdominal cavity is then inflated using carbon dioxide to allow visualization space.¬†
  • A laparoscope is advanced into the abdominal cavity.¬†

Exposure & Dissection 

  • Adhesions and fundus cephalad are retracted using a lateral grasper.¬†
  • A medial grasper is applied to the infundibulum for retractions in the caudolateral direction.¬†
  • An L-hook electrocautery is used to lyse the duodenum and omentum for better view of the gallbladder.¬†
  • The cystic duct and artery are dissected in the triangle of Calot to obtain critical view. Once critical view is obtained, structures can be separated from the gallbladder.
  • The gallbladder and liver are separated. Use of traction and hook tools to remove gallbladder from the gallbladder bed. Electrocautery is used in removal.¬†
  • Bleeding is controlled.¬†

Removing the Gallbladder 

  • Two 5 mm graspers are used to hold the gallbladder up.¬†
  • The gallbladder is placed into an endoscopic retrieval pouch.¬†
  • Surgical tools are removed.¬†
  • The gallbladder bed and suprahepatic spaces are irrigated, followed by the suction of fluids. Bile fluids are also removed.¬†
  • All instruments used to view the abdominal cavity are removed under direct vision.¬†
  • All skin incisions are closed with 4-0 absorbable monofilament suture.¬†

Efficacy of Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure is the most effective form of long-term treatment against canine gallbladder obstructions.

Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction Recovery in Dogs

The canine will be hospitalized following surgery in order to recover under constant, professional motorization. When the veterinarian allows the patient to return home, the dog must be confined and restricted of physical activity to prevent the sutures from coming loose. An Elizabethan collar may be sent home with the dog to prevent manipulation of the incision site. Pain medications, paired with a broad spectrum antibiotic will be administered as directed by the veterinarian. 

Cost of Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

The cost to have a gallbladder obstruction removed depends on the specific case and the type of surgical procedure performed. However, dog owners could estimate the cost of gallbladder removal surgery to be about $3,000-$6,000. Discuss price with your local veterinary provider to obtain a more accurate estimated cost.

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Dog Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction Considerations

As with all major abdominal surgeries, complications may occur. Although rare, a dog that has undergone a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure may develop surgery-induced bleeding, infection, organ or tissue injury. 

Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction Prevention in Dogs

A low fat, balanced diet may aid in the prevention of a gallbladder obstruction, as a high level of fat could raise the cholesterol levels in the bile. Also, gallbladder stones form when there is a high level of salts and cholesterol in the secreted bile, so it makes sense that a diet change could be an easy prevention method for a canine gallbladder obstruction. 

Surgical Removal of Gallbladder Obstruction Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals






4 Years


9 found this helpful


9 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
My 4 years old Female Beagle had elevated liver enzyme’s about 600 and something , Her vet put her on a medication called Ursodiol , yesterday we did the blood work again and came up that enzyme in the lever went down od 400 , my question is there will be a change that she may no need the surgery?I mean the gallbladder removed, and how many percentage there is that she may not survive during the surgery . Thank you .

Aug. 21, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

9 Recommendations

Ursodiol can be quite an effective medication in decreasing sludge in teh gall bladder, and that change is positive. I'm not sure which enzyme you are tracking, so can't say for sure if things are back to normal, but if your veterinarian feels that it is worth continuing with the medication vs. surgery, that would be best for everyone.

Aug. 21, 2018

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10 Years


4 found this helpful


4 found this helpful

Our 10 year old pug, possibly has gallbladder issues. They’ve done 1 ultrasound, lots of blood work and medicine. He has elevated liver levels. Bilirubin is pretty high. My question is, can they remove the gallbladder laparoscopic or do they have to cut him completely open? Is one better than the other consider his age/ other issues? (I.E high liver values etc)

Aug. 21, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

4 Recommendations

There are many details that I am not privy to about Winston that would affect that answer. I'm not aware of laparascopic removal of gall bladders, but it may be something that a specialist offers near you. He may benefit from a medication called Ursodiol, but I'm not sure if that would be appropriate for him without knowing more about his situation. It would be best to have this conversation with your veterinarian, as they are familiar with his situation, and see what the best options are for him.

Aug. 21, 2018

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