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alternative to gallbladder removal

  : I had what seemed to be gallbladder attacks (pain dead center @ top of stomach but no nausea or other symptoms) a couple of times last november, but haven't had many symptoms since (some minor twinges in my stomach after some meals). Ultra sound supposedly revealed my gallbladder was full of stones, but individual stones where never seen. What I was wondering is if any of these alleged postions with olive oil and epson salt work? Is surgery the only option? Do I really need to remove the gallbladder? The surgeon i talked with didn't have much to say except cut it out.
  I'm not a doctor so please don't disregard your doctor's diagnosis because of my comments.  I had something similar and the first thing (and 2nd and 3rd) thing any of the doctors thought of was to cut it out.  I was even told by one doctor that they wouldn't look further for other possible causes until I had the gallbladder removed and still had symptoms.  Every doctor I saw said I should have the surgery because "it's so easy these days".  
  The best thing to do for yourself is research.  The archives of this forum is an excellent place to start.  I have found that the doctors who reply to the posts here are far less likely to resort to medi-speak and will give you the straight story even though diagnosing over the internet is extremely difficult.
  I haven't tried the olive oil cure yet mostly because of my work schedule.  Since it requires several days of fasting before hand it is difficult to work into the schedule.  I have read several posts and websites by people who swear by it and even my doctor said he didn't see any harm in trying it although he didn't believe it would help.  
  If you decide to try it I would be interested to hear how it went for you since your pain is so similar to mine.  
  Good luck.
Dear caw,
In patients with biliary pain who have documented gallstones, the current treatment of choice is to surgically remove the gallbladder. This can be performed laparoscopically or with open cholycystectomy. Most surgeons will routinely perform laparoscopic cholecystectomy. In patients who are poor surgical candidates other nonsurgical treatments have been employed. None of these treatments have as good a track record as surgery and recurrence is possible.
Oral bile acid dissolution therapy with ursodeoxycholic acid (Ursodiol, Actigall) can be tried in patients with uncomplicated gallstone disease. The stones must not be calcified and should be less than 10 mm in diameter. The number of stones does not limit treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid as long less than half of the gallbladder volume is occupied by the stones. An oral cholecystogram needs to confirm patency of the cystic duct. With ursodeoxycholic acid, complete dissolution is achieved in 20-70% of patients, but it may take up to 2 years. Recurrence rates are about 50% within five years.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) can break up large stone fragments or dissolve smaller stones by using sound wave technology to destroy gallstones. Patients may be symptomatic but should have uncomplicated disease. An oral cholecystogram should be performed prior to treatment. The patient should only have one stone which is less than 20 mm in diameter. Sometimes this therapy is used in combination with oral dissolution therapy. In properly selected patients, studies have shown a 64% and 84% stone free interval at 6 months and 12 months respectively. Recurrence rates are 31% at five years.
An approach that has recently been abandoned is direct solvent dissolution therapy. In this method a catheter is placed into the bile ducts where a chemical is infused in order to dissolve gallstones. Other treatments such as the ones you describe have not been scientifically tested and should be considered experimental until further data to prove their efficacy is available.
I hope you find this information helpful.
This response is being provided for general informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice or consultation. Always check with your personal physician when you have a question pertaining to your health.
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