Signs of Infection After Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder surgery, called cholecystectomy, is a procedure that removes the gallbladder. It's often necessary due to problems with gallstones or abnormal function of the gallbladder 1. It can be done laparoscopically or with a more invasive surgery with a bigger incision. As with any type of surgery, one of the primary risk factors is developing an infection after the surgery--so it's important to be aware of the warning signs and seek prompt attention.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Pain that Gets Worse

It's normal to be sore after a surgery and experience tenderness at the site of the incision. But your pain should steadily improve, not worsen. Pain that seems to get worse throughout recovery is a possible sign of infection, and should be reported to your doctor. Pain when you touch the incision--particularly tenderness that increases--also indicates infection.

Changes to the Incision Site

Keep a careful eye on your incision to look for signs of infection. Swelling of the incision, as well as the site turning red, are not normal signs of recovery and could indicate infection. Any heat or warmth when you touch the incision is also a sign of infection and your doctor should be notified. Fluids (especially pus, which is usually yellow in color) draining from the incision is another likely sign of infection and is not a normal part of healing. Also pay attention to any bleeding from the incision site, and let your doctor know.

Diarrhea and Fever

Running a fever, especially a high fever, is a sign that your body is fighting an infection following gallbladder surgery. And while occasional light diarrhea isn't uncommon after the procedure, severe diarrhea that contains blood or is very painful is not normal and is likely a sign of infection.