- What It Is
- Risk Factors
- Living With
- User Questions
- Alternative Treatment
- Care Guide
- Questions for Your Doctor
- When to Contact a Doctor
- Find a Doctor
- Resource Guide
How to Treat Gallstones
Gallstones that do not cause any symptoms may be simply ignored until they begin to cause symptoms. However, treatment may be needed for gallstones that cause significant and recurrent pain. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Treatment options include the following:
Removal of the gallbladder, or cholecystectomy , is usually needed to treat symptoms associated with gallstones. It is a relatively safe procedure that does not cause any nutritional problems. It is also not usually necessary to follow a special diet after the gallbladder is removed.
Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy
Sound waves can be used to break up gallstones. Once broken up into smaller pieces, gallstones can pass into the small intestine. Also, smaller stones are easier to treat with oral bile salt therapy. Because the gallbladder is still present, however, gallstones are likely to recur after this therapy.
Oral Bile Salts
If surgery is not desirable, bile salts to dissolve gallstones can be taken by mouth. However, it may take a long time to dissolve the gallstones, and because the gallbladder is still present, gallstones may recur.
Contact Dissolution Therapy
A chemical that dissolves gallstones is injected directly into the gallbladder. This is a newer form of therapy, and still under investigation.