Advertisement

Can gallstones be treated nonsurgically?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Nonsurgical approaches are used only in special situations-such as when a patient has a serious medical condition preventing surgery-and only for cholesterol stones. Stones commonly recur within five years in patients treated nonsurgically.

Oral dissolution therapy. Drugs made from bile acid are used to dissolve gallstones. The drugs ursodiol (Actigall) and chenodiol (Chenix) work best for small cholesterol stones. Months or years of treatment may be necessary before all the stones dissolve. Both drugs may cause mild diarrhea, and chenodiol may temporarily raise levels of blood cholesterol and the liver enzyme transaminase. Contact dissolution therapy. This experimental procedure involves injecting a drug directly into the gallbladder to dissolve cholesterol stones. The drug-methyl tert-butyl ether-can dissolve some stones in one to three days, but it causes irritation and some complications have been reported. The procedure is being tested in symptomatic patients with small stones.

This answer is based on the source infromation from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 

Continue Learning about Gallstones

What are the symptoms of gallstones?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
You may not have symptoms with gallstones. About 80 percent of gallstones cause no symptoms and requ...
More Answers
How are gallstones diagnosed?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
To diagnose gallstones, your doctor may decide to take pictures of your gallbladder using ultrasound...
More Answers
How common are gallstones?
Fawcett Memorial HospitalFawcett Memorial Hospital
Many people have gallstones. About 30 to 45 million adults in the United States have them. (That's a...
More Answers
What does a hiatus scan accomplish?
Brandon Regional HospitalBrandon Regional Hospital
A hiatus scan tests the gallbladder function.
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.