Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Risk Factors Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care warning signs Complications Underlying Cause Types Anatomy

Gall Stones Treatment

Gallstones that are causing no symptoms may not require treatment. Treatment for gallstones that are causing recurrent symptoms includes medications to dissolve the gallstones, lithotripsy, and endoscopic procedures to remove them from the bile duct.

In some cases, it may be recommended to remove the gallbladder. Those with gallstones and a history for cirrhosis, portal hypertension, sickle cell anemia, or diabetes, may benefit from the removal of the gallbladder.

Treatment for gallstones that are causing symptoms includes:

  • Oral bile salt therapy:
  • Endoscopic retrograde sphincterotomy:
    • A flexible, lighted scope reaches the intestine via the esophagus and stomach.
    • Gallstones are removed from the gallbladder through the bile duct.
  • Lithotripsy for gallstones:
    • Gallstones are broken into smaller pieces by subjecting them to high frequency sound waves.
  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy:
    • Usually the treatment of choice for those with gallstones who are experiencing symptoms
    • The gallbladder is removed through a small incision in the abdomen, using a flexible, lighted scope.
  • General cholecystectomy:
    • The gallbladder is removed through an incision in the abdomen, without the use of endoscopy.
    • Less commonly used due to the advent of laparoscopic gallbladder removal.

Gall Stones Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of gallstones.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
    • Is surgery an option for me?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • Are there any medications or supplements I should avoid?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • Do I need a special exercise program?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

Gall Stones Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat gallstones:

Continue to Gall Stones Home Care

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Gall Stones References
  1. Ahmed A, Cheung RC, Keeffe EB. Management of gallstones and their complications. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Mar 15;61(6):1673-80, 1687-8. [10750875]
  2. Bartlett DL. Gallbladder cancer. Semin Surg Oncol. 2000 Sep-Oct;19(2):145-55. [11126379]
  3. Cirillo DJ, Wallace RB, Rodabough RJ, Greenland P, LaCroix AZ, Limacher MC, Larson JC. Effect of estrogen therapy on gallbladder disease. JAMA. 2005 Jan 19;293(3):330-9. [15657326]
  4. Fernandez M, Csendes A, Yarmuch J, Diaz H, Silva J. Management of common bile duct stones: the state of the art in 2000. Int Surg. 2003 Jul-Sep;88(3):159-63. [14584772]
  5. Glasgow RE, Cho M, Hutter MM, Mulvihill SJ. The spectrum and cost of complicated gallstone disease in California. Arch Surg. 2000 Sep;135(9):1021-5; discussion 1025-7. [10982504]
  6. Majeski J. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy in geriatric patients. Am J Surg. 2004 Jun;187(6):747-50. [15191870]
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