Gallstones and bile duct stones are tiny cholesterol stones that often won’t cause any symptoms and require no symptoms, but if they cause persistent pain, fever, and jaundice (skin yellowing), doctors may opt for their removal. Treatment for gallbladder stones will most likely depend on the symptoms that affect your everyday life.
Some patients will have no treatment; for them, active monitoring is often recommended.
For the most part, treatment is recommended if patients also have other medical issues that increase the chances of developing any unwanted complications like:
- Liver scarring or cirrhosis
- Portal hypertension or high blood pressure inside the liver
Also, gallbladder stone treatment may be recommended if the examination results show that the levels of calcium inside the gallbladder are abnormally high, which may also lead to gallbladder cancer later on.
In the case of abdominal pain episodes, gallbladder or duct bile stone treatment will depend on how the pain affects the patient’s everyday life.
Painkillers and a healthier diet may help control future episodes, but if the symptoms and the pain get more frequent and severe, surgery may be recommended.
Treatment for Gallbladder Stones
Because the gallbladder isn’t an essential organ, surgeons may recommend removing it if it’s causing any problems and interferes with the patient’s everyday life.
To treat gallbladder stones and to remove the gallbladder itself, doctors may advise opting for keyhole surgery, which is also called a laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
During this procedure, the surgeon will make a few small incisions in the abdomen, with one larger cit in the area of the belly button and the others on the abdomen’s right side. The surgeon inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas and inserts the laparoscope via one of the cuts. Once the instrument’s onside, the surgeon can remove the gallbladder and any gallbladder and bile duct stones.
Single-incision keyhole surgery may also be recommended, where only one cut is made.
Lastly, the doctor may recommend open surgery if:
- The patient is extremely overweight.
- The patient is in the last three months of pregnancy
- The patient has an unusual bile duct or gallbladder structure, making keyhole surgery dangerous or difficult.
Open surgery will result in a four to 6-inch incision in the abdomen to remove the gallbladder. Because of the more invasive nature of the procedure, recovery time will be longer, and the scarring will be more noticeable.
ERCP to Remove Gallbladder Stones
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography is a procedure in which the gallbladder isn’t removed. Still, an endoscope is used to reach the bile duct’s opening, widened a bit with a small cut, and the stones are removed or enabled to pass into the intestine.
Lastly, medications may be able to help dissolve the stones, or experts may prescribe a low-fat diet to stop the stones from growing.