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Gallstones Treatment Options

Treatment options for gallstones depend on the severity of symptoms. In cases where gallstones are causing symptoms or complications, the most common treatment is surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).

Here are some common treatment options:

If you have asymptomatic gallstones, meaning you do not experience any symptoms, and your stones were discovered incidentally, your Rockford GI doctor may opt for a watchful waiting approach. If you develop symptoms or complications, further treatment options may be considered.

Cholecystectomy is the most common and definitive treatment for symptomatic gallstones and gallbladder disease. The surgery involves removing the gallbladder, which eliminates the possibility of future gallstone formation and related complications.

  • Open surgery: In open cholecystectomy, a single large incision is made in the abdomen to access and remove the gallbladder. This procedure is usually performed when there are complications or if laparoscopic surgery is not feasible.
  • Laparoscopic surgery: Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the preferred method for most patients. It is minimally invasive and involves making several small incisions in the abdomen through which a laparoscope and specialized surgical instruments are inserted. The surgeon then removes the gallbladder using these instruments. Laparoscopic surgery generally results in less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery times compared to open surgery.

ERCP is a procedure used to treat gallstones that have migrated from the gallbladder and become lodged in the bile ducts. It combines endoscopy and fluoroscopy to visualize the bile ducts and perform interventions. During the procedure, an endoscope is passed through the mouth, down the esophagus, and into the small intestine. Contrast dye is then injected into the bile ducts, making them visible on X-ray. Special instruments can be used to extract or break up the stones, allowing them to pass through the digestive system naturally.

In certain cases where surgery is not feasible due to underlying health conditions or complications, a percutaneous cholecystostomy may be performed. This procedure involves the insertion of a drainage tube through the skin and into the gallbladder. The tube allows bile to drain from the gallbladder, relieving symptoms and preventing further complications. Percutaneous cholecystostomy is often considered a temporary measure until the patient’s condition improves and they can undergo definitive treatment.

ESWL is a non-invasive procedure used to break up gallstones into smaller fragments, allowing them to pass through the bile ducts more easily. It involves the use of high-energy sound waves directed at the gallstones, which shatter them into smaller pieces. The fragmented stones can then be passed naturally through the digestive system. ESWL is typically reserved for patients who are not suitable candidates for surgery, such as those with significant comorbidities or who cannot tolerate anesthesia.

The choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the severity of symptoms, the type and size of gallstones, the presence of complications such as inflammation or infection, the overall health of the patient, and individual preferences.

It’s important to consult with a board-certified gastroenterologist at Rockford Gastroenterology Associates in Rockford, Illinois who can assess your specific condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment option for you. They will consider the benefits, risks, and potential outcomes of each approach to help you make an informed decision. Contact Rockford Gastroenterology Associates to schedule a consultation today.

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