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Gallstones Without Symptoms: When Surgery Is Needed - Topic Overview

Experts disagree about whether the gallbladder should be removed for gallstones that do not cause symptoms. Surgery may be needed if you have:

  • Sickle cell disease.
  • Plans to get an organ transplant (such as a heart or kidney).
  • A high risk of gallbladder cancer (for example, if you are a Pima Indian, have a very large gallstone, or have a calcified gallbladder).

Doctors sometimes recommend surgery for women who are trying to get pregnant. This may be true for a woman who has had symptoms in the past that are believed to be caused by gallstones, and the woman and her doctor are concerned that her symptoms may get worse during pregnancy. They may choose to do surgery to prevent any possible complications, especially if the woman's pregnancy is likely to be high-risk because of other problems.

Recommended Related to Digestive Disorders

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Many people with hiatal hernia, a condition in which part of the stomach bulges upward through an opening in the diaphragm, have no symptoms. For those who do, what they eat can be the difference between a good day (or night) and a bad one. Diet plays an important role in controlling the symptoms of hiatal hernia, namely heartburn and acid indigestion. When you have a hiatal hernia, it is easier for stomach acids to come up into the esophagus, the tube that carries food from your throat...

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Most doctors do not recommend that people with diabetes have surgery for gallstones that do not cause symptoms. The risk of surgery in people who have diabetes may be higher than the risk of a gallstone attack. Surgery is recommended after the first occurrence of symptoms.

The gallbladder may be removed during bariatric surgery, even in people who haven't had a problem with gallstones.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 10, 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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