Gallstones usually don’t produce any symptoms and under such conditions treatment is usually not given. However if the gallstones do cause pain and other symptoms, surgery or various other non surgical procedures may be done. In some cases though doctors may even recommend surgery for gallstones that do nor produce any symptoms. However this is quite rare.
The surgical procedures that may be carried out to remove gallstones are:
This is the usual method of treatment that is done for gallbladder removal. In this procedure a thin instrument called a laparoscope which has an inbuilt video recorder is sent down into the abdomen. The view captured by the recorder is then transmitted onto a clear television screen allowing the doctor to view the surgery in greater detail. Gallbladder removal is then done laparoscopically through small incisions of the abdominal wall. Cholecystectomy is usually successful most of the time but in some cases there may be severe complications such as injury to the bile ducts causing leakage of bile which could eventually develop into an infection.
An open cholecystectomy is done when the condition is serious or if the abdominal walls are very thick. Unlike a laparoscopic cholecystectomy which is performed through small incisions, an open surgery is done through a large incision.
A Sphincterotomy is usually done when a gallstone is caught in one of the bile ducts (hepatic or common). The procedure involves surgically cutting the common bile duct’s sphincter muscle with a small instrument, which is sent down through an endoscope. After the the muscle is cut open, other instruments may be sent down as well to collect the gallstone or to squash it. Just like a cholecystectomy, sphincterotomy may also result in complications such as injury to the bile ducts, bleeding (or) even pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas gets inflamed.
Non Surgical Treatment:
Non surgical treatment procedures are usually not as effective as surgical ones and are recommended when surgery is not a viable option due to certain health conditions.
Here are some of the non surgical treatment options:
Actigall Tablets (or) Oral Dissolution Therapy:
These bile salt tablets are usually prescribed to disintegrate small cholesterol stones but they may not be effective if the stones are large in size. Even in small stones these tablets are only effective half the time and they may need to be taken for a number of years in order to prevent a reoccurence. Actigall is therefore usually recommended for individuals who face certain health risks from gallbladder surgery.
Shock Wave Lithotripsy:
This non surgical procedure is done when the gallstones are stuck inside the bile ducts. In this procedure short energy waves are produced and are directed towards the gallstones. The energy waves break up the gallstones into tiny pieces which eventually drain into the intestines and out of the body. This procedure has also known to be effective against pigment stones as well.
In this procedure, the drug methyl – teryl – butyl – ether is injected into the gallbladder to disintegrate the cholesterol stones that have formed there. This procedure may cause certain compications and is not widely available yet.
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