Asymptomatic gallstones are not usually treated. For example, gallstones are often discovered by accident when an X-ray is done for another reason. If gallstones are causing symptoms, a person may want to consider surgery. Surgery is usually not required for uncomplicated gallstones, but a person may want it done.
Treatments other than surgery are used in some cases but are less effective. Some medicines, such as ursodiol, can dissolve gallstones. A procedure that uses special sound waves to break up stones may also be done in some settings.
If a person gets complications from gallstones, surgery is usually advised. In some cases, surgery must be done quickly because of serious complications. Removal of the gallbladder stops the symptoms in almost all cases. The gallbladder may be removed through a lighted tube, or laparoscope. Occasionally, the gallbladder is removed with traditional surgery.
Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Some people may notice more frequent bowel movements for a short time after surgery.
Gallstones may recur after they are dissolved with medicines or destroyed with ultrasound. Surgery is usually more successful.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.