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by Savitsky D

(Biliary Colic; Calculus of Gallbladder; Cholangitis; Cholelithiasis; Cholecystitis; Cholecystolithiasis; Choledocholithiasis)


Risk Factors

People who are older than 60 are at increased risk for gallstones. Women between 20-60 years old and those with high estrogen levels are also at increased risk. People of Native American, Mexican American, and Northern European descent are also at increased risk.
Other factors that may increase your risk of gallstones include:
Certain medications can increase your risk of gallstones, including:
  • Thiazide diuretics
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs—fibrates
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Octreotide
  • Somastatin


Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Options include:

Surgical Treatments

  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy—the removal of the gallbladder through several small incisions in the abdomen. To view the gallbladder, a small, lighted tube with a camera is inserted into one of the incisions. Surgical instruments are used to remove the gallbladder through one of the other incisions.
  • Open cholecystectomy—the removal of the gallbladder through a large incision in the abdomen. This is necessary if there is an infection in the abdomen or a great deal of scar tissue.


You may be prescribed:
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medication to control pain
  • Bile salt tablets to dissolve gallstones; these medications may need to be taken for months or years until the stones are dissolved

Other Treatments

Another procedure that may be used to treat gallstones is called endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). ERCP uses a combination of endoscopy and x-rays to locate and remove gallstones before or during gallbladder surgery.


American Liver Foundation

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse



Canadian Liver Foundation

Health Canada



Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated October 23, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2013.

Gallstones. American Academy of Family Physicians' FamilyDoctor website. Available at: Updated July 2010. Accessed December 5, 2013.

Gallstones. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Updated November 27, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2013.

6/18/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Yarmish GM, Smith MP, et al. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria on right upper quadrant pain. Available at: Updated 2013. Accessed June 18, 2014.


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