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If you experience pain or other symptoms that you think may be gallstones, visit your doctor.

If you experience pain or other symptoms that you think may be gallstones, visit your doctor.
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Gallstones treatment

2 min read

Some people with gallstones have no treatment. They recover from the episode that brought the gallstones to their attention, and they don’t have any more problems. But others need treatment.

Surgery

The most common management of gallstone disease is surgery. Surgeons may remove your entire gallbladder (cholecystectomy), or just the stones from bile ducts.

You can live a healthy life without your gallbladder - it just means the bile flows directly from your liver to your small intestine.

Gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) is the only treatment that cures gallstones. It does not affect your ability to digest food.

The most common type of surgery is keyhole or laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Your surgeon will make a few small incisions in your abdomen, insert a miniature video camera and instruments, remove the gallbladder and stitch the incisions closed. The trapped gallstones can be removed at the same time.

If your gallbladder is very inflamed you may need open surgery, which requires a larger cut.

Keyhole surgery is better for most people because recovery is usually faster. You may be able to go home the next day after your operation. If you have open surgery, you may need to stay several days in hospital.

Medicines

There are medicines that may be used to dissolve gallstones but they are not very effective and some have side effects. The gallstones return after treatment. As such, using medicines to treat gallstones is not commonly recommended.  

Shock-wave therapy

Shock-wave therapy, also known as extracorporeal shock-wave lithotripsy, is an option if you don’t want surgery. Usually, you will be given medicines to dissolve the gallstones before the procedure.

This procedure is not commonly recommended.

This treatment is only used in certain centres, for the minority of people who have small and soft stones. 

Last reviewed: November 2016

Need more information?

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Found 10 results

Gallstones: treatment - myDr.com.au

Gallstones that are causing symptoms can be treated by removing the gallbladder using a procedure called cholecystectomy.

Read more on myDr website

Gallbladder - gallstones and surgery - Better Health Channel

Medical treatment for gallstones may not be necessary unless the gallstones cause symptoms.

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Laparoscopic cholecystectomy - Better Health Channel

Gallstones are a common problem. An operation to remove your gallbladder should result in you being free of pain and able to eat a normal diet.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Gallstones | myVMC

Gallstone disease is characterised by the formation of cholesterol or pigment stones in the gall bladder. They do not usually cause symptoms.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Open cholecystectomy - Better Health Channel

Gallstones are a common problem. An operation to remove your gallbladder should result in you being free of pain and able to eat a normal diet.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Cholecystitis | myVMC

Cholecystitis is the inflammation of the Gallbladder

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Common Bile Duct Stone (Choledocholithiasis, Cholangitis, Obstructive Jaundice) | myVMC

Choledocholithiasis or bile duct stone refers to passage of gall stones into the bile duct. The gall stones obstruct the bile duct causing jaundice.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

ERCP for pancreatic and biliary disease information | myVMC

ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) is a procedure for viewing from the mouth to the duodenum to diagnose pancreatic or billiary disease.

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Porphyrias (blood disorders) information | myVMC

Porphyria refers to a group of blood disorders that can cause sensitivity to light, abdominal pain and abnormal neurological sensations.

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Laparoscopy - keyhole surgery


Laparoscopy is a procedure that can be used to investigate and treat a variety of conditions. It involves using a telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope to view the inside of the abdomen and/or pelvis.

Read more on myDr website

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