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Treatment of gallstone

Surgery 1

Cholecystectomy or removal of the gallbladder by surgery is said to be the most reliable (eliminates the chances of recurrence in 99% of the cases) treatment.

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Rest assured! Lack of a gallbladder does not have any negative consequences in most cases. However, the caution line is that only symptomatic patients should be treated with surgery.

Laparoscopic surgery is a preferred choice these days. It causes less discomfort than regular surgery. The hospital stay is shorter and the recovery is faster. Also, the scars are smaller than regular open surgery. Several small incisions are made instead of one large incision.

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Through one of the incisions, a laparoscope is inserted. It is a narrow flexible tube with a videocamera. This allows the doctor to see the gallbladder on a TV screen. The surgeon inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide, a harmless gas. This helps in easier viewing and provides room for the surgery to be performed.  Through two other tiny incisions, different instruments are inserted. The surgeon clips the gallbladder artery and the bile duct, and safely removes the gallbladder and the stone.

In open surgery, a cut of about 6 inches is made on the patient’s abdomen and the gallbladder is removed through it. Such a surgery may be needed, if one has a large scarring from a previous surgery, a bleeding disorder, or the surgeon feels it will be difficult to get a good view of the abdomen using a laparoscope.

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Nonsurgical Options

Bile Acid Tablets

Ursodeoxycholic acid (Ursodiol) is administered orally for the treatment of cholesterol gallstones; however, there are chances of recurrence if the drug is stopped.

Sound Wave Therapy (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy)

High frequency sound waves are used to break up the gallstones. Then, ursodiol tablets are taken to dissolve these fragments. The patient may not be a good candidate for such therapy if he or she has:

  • Multiple stones
  • A large stone
  • Inflammation of the gallbladder or the biliary tract

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Home Treatment

Some people swear by the remedy of drinking a full glass of water at the start of an attack to alleviate the abdominal pain. Another solution is to take magnesium followed by a bitter liquid such as coffee an hour later. Bitter flavors stimulate bile flow. A study has found lower rates of gallstones in coffee drinkers.2

Alternative Therapies

‘Gallbladder flush’ or ‘liver flush’ is practiced as a popular regimen in alternative medicine. In this, the patient drinks four glasses of apple cider and eats five apples per day for five days. This is followed by brief fasting and then magnesium, and finally large quantities of lemon or grapefruit juice mixed with olive oil before bed. It is believed that the next morning, they painlessly pass a number of green and brown pebbles. Herbs such as milk thistle and turmeric are believed to prevent gallstones by making bile less saturated.

But all these practices are very subjective and depend on the level of complication. It is important to consult with the doctor, before trying any alternative medication therapy.


1.The Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Laparocopic Cholecystectomy. [Homepage on the Internet]. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/1700/1715.asp?index=7017. Last reviewed on: April 12, 2006. Last accessed on: 15 February 2008.

2.Michael FL, Walter CW, Eric B. A Prospective Study of Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Symptomatic Gallstone Disease in Men. JAMA. 1999; 281: 2106–2112.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: February 25, 2016