Alternative to Gallbladder surgery- dissolve / Ursodiol ?

Posted , 6 users are following.


I am hoping someone can help. I have been on the urgent nhs waiting list for gallbladder removal for the past 5 months after gallstones were found along with pancreatitis- not sure whether this was an acute episode or ongoing

After doing my own research I am desperate to avoid having my gallbladder removed due to all the problems associated with this.

I would like to try to dissolve with medication, I believe the most common is Ursodiol but I cannot find much information on this.

I have asked my gp, who did not know these tablets existed and referred me back to the surgeon, whose secretary told me he said no, with no explaination as to why.

The scans I have had shows that I have gallstones 1-3mm in size but filling 3/4 of my gallbladder. Although I have had at least one blocking the duct which another scan proved that it had passed through on its own.

I am hoping someone has tried to dissolve gallstones with medication and been successful.

Any help would be much appreciated, as I cannot turn to gp or consultant with this.

Thanks so much in advance

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    I have no advice but following incase anyone has any ideas why they don't do this rather than removal.

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply Joanne. Hopefully someone has managed to avoid having their gallbladder removed and can tell us how! I can't believe how many people suffer after having this op, it's awful. Thanks again smile

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    • Posted

      Though some people have difficulty after gallbladder removal, I believe that most people do well.  Unfortunately, people who do well don't often contribute to sites like this.  

      Aren't you concerned about the pancreatitis?  A diseased gallbladder can stress the organs around it, as well as rupture or become cancerous.  Have your doctors discussed this with you?

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    • Posted

      Hi. Thanks for reply : )

      I am concerned about pancreatitis. I'm lucky that the last scan showed that it wasn't inflamed. Although I am not in the clear yet. The doctors have only told me that it's surgery and I'm on the waiting list.

      I have been in so much pain these last few months and my life has completely changed/stopped. But I have not had that awful pain for a few weeks mostly just very unwell which is probably why I am thinking along these lines.

      What I am worried about more than anything, is having my gallbladder out and being ill/this affecting me for the rest of my life because I didn't try an alternative first.

      This is why I'm looking for any information on dissolving gallstones. It is on nhs as an alternative to surgery so it's not an unrecognized treatment. But I can't find information on someone who has tried this.

      So any help would be very much appreciated.

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  • Posted

    Hi, I have researched this a lot, the medication is only suitable for a few stones, not a gallbladder full and also only works half the time, has long term health consequences and also they return in half the cases they solve too. It also can take upto 2 yrs to disolve them.
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    • Posted

      Hi. Thanks so much for your reply.

      I did know Ursodiol is only suitable for cholesterol stones, the time it takes and that they can return.

      Although I didn't know there were long term health consequences. Would you mind telling me what these are?

      I would be happy to take the time it takes and the possibility of return stones if theres a chance I can keep my gallbladder. But long term consequences worries me.

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    • Posted

      They say it has to be taken really lifelong as they will mostly just reoocur which can cause nausea, diorrhea and gallstone calcification! bit ironic as that is mostly what you already have.

      I have read that it often just delays the inevitable, however it might work for you smile

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  • Posted

    Hi, this method isn't reliable, hence why your gp and consultant hasn't suggested it and for the fact that stones will reappear unless you take your gallbladder away. It can take upto 2 years for stones to start to dissolve and even then the results aren't very good which is why they don't use this method.

    As you've already had a stone blocking the duct this is also a reason why they don't use this as stones will start to dissolve and then move and then cause you more pain. If your gallbladder is already 3/4 full of stones then its really important that you get this sorted as well as the fact that you've had pancreatitis.

    The majority of people have no problems with the surgery or after gallbladder removal which is why they don't use that medication anymore to dissolve the gallstone.

    Remember lots of trials have been conducted over the years to find the best way of dealing with gallstones and once they did use urisodol but since keyhole surgery came into effect and people didn't have to have open surgery this became the better option for patients. This is why you won't find alot on the internet, there is some but it isn't used very much anymore because its not the best way.

    Hope this helps.


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  • Posted

    I had my gallbladder removed 2 years ago. I can honestly say I have had no problems and have never felt better.
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