Gallstone Treatment & Gallstone Surgery

What are gallstones?

Gallstones are hardened digestive fluids that form in the gallbladder. The medical term for gallstone formation is cholelithiasis. Gallstones can become a problem when they create bile duct blockages or when they block up or irritate the gallbladder or pancreas.

Gallstones are a common problem in Australia, with an estimate that 25% of Australians over the age of 50 presenting gallstones. Many never experience symptoms from gallstones, whereas in others they can cause serious issues.

Gallstone Diagnosis

Gallstones and complications of gallstones are identified using a series of tests.

Abdominal Ultrasound
The abdominal ultrasound is the most commonly used diagnostic test to detect the signs of gallstones.

Endoscopic Ultrasound
The endoscopic ultrasound can be used to identify smaller gallstones that may not be visible on an abdominal ultrasound. A thin endoscopic tube is passed through the mouth and into the digestive tract, and an ultrasound device is used to produce a precise image of the surrounding tissue.

Blood Test
Blood tests may reveal infection, pancreatitis, blockage of the bile ducts or other complications as a result of gallstones.

There are other imaging tests available to identify gallstones and to image gallbladder function such as a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scan (HIDA), magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP) or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Gallstones discovered using ERCP can be removed during the procedure.

Gallstones Treatment

Not everybody who presents with gallstones has symptoms that would require treatment. Your doctor will likely advise to be alert and aware of symptoms of gallstone complications. Symptoms can include:

  • Intensifying pain in your upper right abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Low fever

Gallstone Surgery

For patients that have recurring gallstones or gallstones that are presenting with complications resulting in pain and discomfort, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy, gallbladder removal surgery).

Non-surgical Gallstone Treatment

Medications can be administered (by mouth) to help to dissolve gallstones. However this treatment can take a long time, may not be completely effective and is often only reserved for those patients who can’t undergo gallbladder surgery.

Your doctor or medical practitioner may advise that you make lifestyle changes, such as increasing your weekly exercise and reducing the consumption of certain foods that are high in sugar, carbohydrate and fats.


If you are seeking gallstone treatment, are suffering from bile duct blockage and would like to know more about gallstone surgery then please make an appointment to discuss this further. You can make an appointment online or by calling our practice on (03) 9509 4811

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