gallstones don't cause pain or other symptoms, you
most likely will not need treatment. In rare cases, doctors may advise surgery
for gallstones that don't cause symptoms. For more information, see the Surgery
section of this topic.
If gallstones do cause symptoms, you and
your doctor may decide that your best choice is to see whether symptoms go away
on their own (watchful waiting). It is usually safe to wait until you have had
another attack before you consider having surgery. Watchful waiting may be the
best choice if:
- This is your first episode of gallstone
- Gallstone pain is mild. If your gallstones cause severe
pain, more urgent surgery should be considered to prevent future attacks and
- You do not have
complications, such as a blocked duct.
are not at high risk for future problems.
If you need treatment for gallstones, in most cases the
best treatment is surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). In many
laparoscopic surgery is the best method to remove the
gallbladder. Open surgery requires a longer recovery period and causes more
pain because it creates a larger incision.
Your doctor can help
you assess the severity of your gallstone attacks and can help you decide
whether you should have surgery or other treatment.
What To Think About
About 1 out of 3 people with
gallstones who have pain or other symptoms do not have another episode.1 But the risks of not treating gallstones include the
possibility of infection and
About 15% of people who have
symptoms from gallstones also have gallstones in the
common bile duct.1 Common
bile duct stones can cause life-threatening complications. So these stones may need to
be removed before or during surgery to remove your gallbladder.
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