Are new treatment methods of gallbladder stones the death-knell for gallstone surgery?

K. L. Parish, W. C. Chapman, L. F. Williams, W. O. Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent advances in elective treatments for gallbladder (GB) gallstones (GS) provide so many options that we may be entering a new therapeutic era. Many of the 20 million Americans with GS are asymptomatic and do not need any treatment unless they are diabetic or cirrhotic, have a porcelain gallbladder, or can have an incidental cholecystectomy while undergoing an elective abdominal operation for other reasons. Therapy is required for significantly symptomatic gallstones and for complications of GS. With the development of so many options for nonoperative treatments, some predicted these would eclipse surgical cholecystectomy as the gold standards. However, such therapies are palliative and leave a 'guilty' gallbladder in situ in the presence of lithogenic bile, circumstances inviting the recurrence of GS. The few selected patients for whom a general anesthetic represents an inordinate risk should be considered for biliary lithotripsy or percutaneous cholecystolithotomy, both of which can be done without anesthesia. When anesthesia does not present a risk, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which incurs minimal disruption of a patient's normal function, has returned cholecystectomy to its position as the therapeutic gold standard for cholelithiasis. Complicated biliary anatomy or disease may dictate the need for traditional open cholecystectomy. However, most patients and referring physicians are demanding laparoscopic cholecystectomy even as this technique is evolving. Its risk for common bile duct injury is uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-641
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991


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