Can gallstones disappear on their own and how dangerous is untreated gallstones?

Doctor's Answers (1)

Dr Quan Wai Leong

"A specialist in Digestive Health and Advanced Endoscopy"

In general, gallstones do not disappear easily without any treatment. In fact, once gallstones developed, they tend to increase in size and numbers over the years.

The good news is that most patients with gallstones remained well without symptoms and the current recommendation for these cases is to maintain vigilance. 

In approximately 10 to 15% chance, people with gallstones develop abdominal discomfort or pain. If there is no other plausible explanation for the pain, surgical removal of the gallstones and the gallbladder is the recommended treatment.

This is because, once gallstones become symptomatic, the risks of complications such as gallbladder inflammation (cholecystitis) or bile duct infection (cholangitis) increase. These are serious complications not to be taken lightly. 

The real problem in managing gallstones is in ascertaining that the pain is really due to the presence of gallstones and nothing else. This remains challenging since many people do have concurrent medical conditions such as gastritis or abdominal cramps and surgical removal of the gallbladder in these cases will not help.

Speak with your gastroenterologist and discuss on the likely cause of your pain to see if further treatment is indeed required.

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