Understanding Your Non-Surgical And Surgical Gallstone Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with a gallstone problem, then you may be dealing with quite a bit of pain. For this reason, it is wise to speak with a gastroenterologist about treatment options. Options include surgical and non-surgical ones, so find out about what kind of choices you may be given in regard to your treatments.

Non-Surgical Gallstone Treatment

There are a few different kinds of non-surgical treatment options that your gastroenterology expert may suggest. And, they are often reserved for mild to moderate conditions or as first-line treatments. One of the more common treatments involves the use of sound waves to break up the gallstones. This is called lithotripsy and it is completed outside the body. Once the stones are broken up, they can naturally move out of the gallbladder. 

If one or several stones are blocking the bile ducts, then an ERCP treatment will be scheduled. This is where a fiberoptic camera is moved down into the stomach and intestines until it reaches the bile duct. The gallstone is viewed using the camera and a small grasping tool retrieves the stone from the opening. In some cases, a stent is placed inside the duct to keep it open and to prevent a future blockage. 

Sometimes, medications can be used to dissolve the stones. However, you should know that the prescriptions sometimes do not work and gallstones are likely to form again.

Surgical Treatments

If imagery shows the presence of multiple stones within the gallbladder, then your doctor may suggest that the gallbladder be removed completely. The surgery is called a cholecystectomy and it is a common procedure. This is especially true since the gallbladder is not an essential structure, so if it is causing a medical problem, it can simply be removed without compromising your health.

The surgery will depend on the physician's specific approach. Either an open or a laparoscopic procedure will be planned. Open procedures are a bit more complicated and involve wide incisions in the skin. And, they are scheduled if the gallbladder is inflamed or infected so the gastroenterologist can keep the organ from erupting. 

The entirety of the gallbladder will be removed during the procedure and the ducts coming from the organ will be rerouted to the liver. This way, bile can be released directly into the digestive system. 

If you want to know more about the options for gallstone treatment, contact a professional of gastroenterology.