Most doctors believe that surgery is the best treatment for gallstones that cause painful symptoms. Though several nonsurgical therapies exist, they are generally reserved for people who can't be given a general anesthetic.
Stones tend to recur about half the time when nonsurgical treatments are used. By far the most common treatment for symptomatic gallstones is cholecystectomy, a surgical procedure that removes the gallbladder.
For about 95% of people, the surgery can be performed laparoscopically (a tiny incision is made in the abdomen). You typically spend 1 day in the hospital, followed by a few days of at-home rest.
If you have an infection or there's scarring from infection, you may need a procedure called an "open" cholecystectomy.
Your surgeon makes a 5- to 8-inch incision in the abdomen through which he removes the gallbladder. This major surgery requires a 2- to 7- day hospital stay and several more weeks at home to recover. Some people may experience diarrhea following a cholecystectomy. That's because bile that was once stored in the gallbladder now flows directly into the small intestine. If you have problems with diarrhea after your surgery, be sure to tell your doctor.
Removing the gallbladder can also cause higher blood cholesterol levels, so your doctor will probably suggest that you get tested occasionally.
But you don't really need to be worried about losing your gallbladder. It's an organ you can easily live without, and you probably won't even miss it. (You certainly won't miss those agonizing stones!)
Just as too-high cholesterol levels can lead to blood vessel - clogging sludge, they may also create painful gallbladder-plugging stones. The healthy mono-and polyunsaturated fats in nuts that help control blood cholesterol may also help prevent gallstones and the need for gallbladder surgery, Harvard Medical School researchers say. You do not need much: All it takes is about 150 gm of peanuts (or other nuts) per week.