Cholecystostomy Tube

A cholecystostomy tube is a medical device used in the treatment of gallbladder issues. This article will discuss the essentials of cholecystostomy tubes, their purpose, the procedure for insertion, care, and possible complications. 

What is a Cholecystostomy Tube?

A cholecystostomy tube is a small tube inserted through the skin into the gallbladder. Its primary function is to drain bile externally when the normal flow of bile is obstructed. This procedure is often recommended for patients who are not suitable candidates for immediate surgery due to severe inflammation, infection, or other health concerns.

The Purpose of Cholecystostomy

The gallbladder is a small organ that plays a crucial role in digestion by storing and concentrating bile. However, conditions like gallstones, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder), or tumors can obstruct the bile ducts, leading to severe pain and infection. A cholecystostomy tube helps alleviate these symptoms by draining the bile, thus reducing the pressure and inflammation in the gallbladder.

When is a Cholecystostomy Tube Needed?

Cholecystostomy tubes are typically considered in acute cases where the patient cannot undergo gallbladder surgery immediately. It is a minimally invasive option that can be lifesaving for critically ill patients, providing temporary relief from gallbladder disease.

The Cholecystostomy Procedure

The procedure to insert a cholecystostomy tube is relatively straightforward and is often performed under local anesthesia. Using imaging guidance, such as ultrasound or CT scans, the physician makes a small incision in the skin and inserts the tube directly into the gallbladder to begin drainage.

Care and Management of a Cholecystostomy Tube

After insertion, proper care of the cholecystostomy tube is essential for healing and to prevent complications. This includes regular cleaning of the insertion site, monitoring the amount and appearance of the bile drained, and ensuring the tube is securely in place. Patients will receive specific instructions from their healthcare providers on how to care for their tube at home.

Complications of Cholecystostomy Tubes

While a cholecystostomy tube is a safe procedure with a low risk of complications, some patients may experience issues such as infection at the insertion site, bile leakage, or tube dislodgment. Immediate medical attention is required if any of these complications occur.

The Role of Imaging in Cholecystostomy

Imaging plays an important role in the cholecystostomy procedure. Techniques such as ultrasound and CT scans are crucial for guiding the placement of the cholecystostomy tube, ensuring accuracy, and minimizing risks. These imaging methods help in diagnosing the underlying gallbladder condition and in monitoring the effectiveness of the treatment.

Recovery and Follow-Up

Recovery from a cholecystostomy tube insertion is generally quick. Most patients can resume normal activities within a few days, although heavy lifting and vigorous exercise should be avoided until the healthcare provider advises. Follow-up appointments are crucial to assess the need for the tube and plan for its removal or for further treatment, such as surgery.


A cholecystostomy tube is an important medical device for patients with severe gallbladder conditions who cannot undergo surgery immediately. Its role in relieving symptoms, the relatively simple and safe procedure for its insertion, and the importance of imaging in guiding the procedure make it a key option in managing gallbladder diseases.

Proper care and management of the cholecystostomy tube can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life while dealing with gallbladder issues. As always, a thorough discussion with a healthcare provider is essential to understand the risks, benefits, and care associated with a cholecystostomy tube.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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