If you’re reading this post, it’s likely that you’ve had a recent ultrasound or cat scan which has shown that you have gallstones. You may have even been told that you need surgery to have your gallbladder removed and are looking for alternative options of gallstone treatment. Well, you’re not alone. Gallstones are one of the most common issues we see as general surgeons. Most people are found to have gallstones after an episode of right sided abdominal pain. In others, the gallstones are an incidental finding as part of the work up for another reason. Many people may have gallstones and not even know they have them.
So, now that you’ve been diagnosed with gallstones what should you do about it? If your gallstones have caused you symptoms of a gallbladder attack then the likelihood of having further attacks is increased. The standard, and most effective, treatment for gallstones is surgical removal of the gallbladder, or cholecystectomy. Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures performed today. Almost all gallbladder removal procedures are performed on an outpatient basis using minimally invasive, or laparoscopic techniques. This makes it possible for you to go home on the same day as your surgery. Recovery averages 1-2 weeks.
If you have never had symptoms from your gallstones, or they were incidentally found, then observation without surgery may be an option. Dietary modifications such as avoidance of greasy, fatty, and spicy foods may decrease the risk of experiencing a gallbladder attack. However, this is not guaranteed. The gallstones are not going to go away on their own. A medication such as Ursodiol (Actigall), which is a naturally occurring bile acid, can sometimes help to dissolve small gallstones over time. Again, this may not work for everyone.
The risks of not having surgery to remove your gallbladder include gallbladder infection (acute cholecystitis), inflammation of the liver (cholangitis) or pancreas (pancreatitis) which may require emergency surgery.
If you have been diagnosed with gallstones the best thing to do is schedule a consultation with a board certified general surgeon who can guide you towards the appropriate treatment.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or comment below!