The majority of gallstones are painless and require no treatment at all. However, sometimes treatment is required to eliminate them.
There are a lot of different treatment methods that can be used to eradicate gallstones today. Below, we’ll look at some of the most common treatment plans for gallstones you may be prescribed.
The most common treatment used for gallstones is surgery to remove the gallbladder. However, the majority of patients don’t actually need to go under the knife.
Surgery is recommended when gallstones are causing significant pain and disruption to your daily life. The gallbladder is a small pear-shaped organ and the truth is, you can live perfectly healthily without it.
There are two types of surgical methods which can be used and both require general anesthetic.
While surgery is the only true treatment method, there are some non-surgical gallstone treatments available too.
It is worth noting here that non-surgical methods can destroy existing stones, but they won’t prevent the development of new ones. It is common for gallstones to reoccur.
If the stones are formed from cholesterol, bile salt may be used to dissolve them. This is inserted into the body through a drug known as Actigall. It can take months, or in some cases, years, for the stone to disappear completely. If they are calcified, this form of treatment is unlikely to work.
Shock wave therapy is another option. This basically uses high-frequency sound waves to cause the stones to fragment. After they have fragmented, bile salt is used to dissolve all of the pieces. Out of all of the gallstone treatments, this one is the least used.
Finally, another non-surgical option is for the doctor to use ERCP. This involves using a small instrument through an endoscope to remove the stone manually.
These non-surgical treatments can produce some relief. However, they are only short term and the stones often reoccur. For this reason, they are mainly advised against by professionals.
How to Choose the Best Treatment
The only way to ensure you’re getting the best gallstone treatment is by undergoing a consultation with your doctor or specialist. They will be able to assess the condition and determine what if any treatment is needed.
Mostly, patients are advised to take a “wait and see” approach. This is because the majority of gallstones do tend to resolve themselves. So, by waiting and seeing whether the body rids itself of the problem, it can avoid unnecessary treatment. Even if the stones are recurrent, treatment may not be needed if they don’t produce symptoms or cause blockages.
These are the treatment options available when you are diagnosed with gallstones. Surgery does tend to be the most commonly used option. This is because it prevents the development of future stones while eliminating existing ones.
If you are diagnosed with gallstones, you may not need any form of treatment. However, if you do and surgery is advised, you can rest assured it is a fairly common procedure which produces excellent results.