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Gallstones - Other Treatment

Other treatment options for gallstones are not widely available. Less is known about their effectiveness and long-term impact compared with surgery.

Other treatment choices

Other treatments for gallstones in the common bile duct include:

  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) with endoscopic sphincterotomy. In an ERCP, a doctor gently moves a flexible, lighted viewing instrument (endoscope) down your throat and through your stomach to examine the tubes that drain your liver and gallbladder. If you have a gallstone in the common bile duct, the gallstone can sometimes be removed through the endoscope.

Other treatments for gallstones in the gallbladder include:

  • Lithotripsy. This procedure uses ultrasound waves to break up gallstones. It may be used alone or along with bile acids to break up stones. The procedure, which is now rarely performed, has been used for people who have long-term (chronic) inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis) and who are not strong enough for surgery. But it is not appropriate in treating sudden (acute) cholecystitis.
  • Contact dissolution therapy. This treatment uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to place a chemical in the gallbladder to dissolve gallstones. This therapy is rarely used because of the risk of complications. And unlike with surgery, gallstones may return.
  • Percutaneous cholecystostomy. This procedure may provide temporary relief for an inflamed gallbladder until an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatogram (ERCP) or surgery can be performed. During percutaneous cholecystostomy, a doctor places a tube through the abdomen and into the gallbladder to drain its contents. This sometimes is done for people who are not strong enough for surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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