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Gallstones - Treatment Overview

If 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.

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 pain.
  • Gallstone pain is mild. If your gallstones cause severe pain, surgery may be considered to prevent future attacks and possible complications.
  • You do not have complications, such as a blocked duct.
  • You 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 cases, 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.

Gallstones: Should I Have Gallbladder Surgery?

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 05, 2013
    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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