For symptomatic gallbladder stones, the right approach is surgical removal of the gallbladder together with the stones. This method is time proven and offers the best long term outcome, provided the patient is both fit and also keen for surgery.
Unfortunately, there is no effective, alternate method of removing gallstones at the moment. In selected cases with only a few small gallstones, medical treatment to dissolve the stone may be possible. This treatment requires oral medication for a long time and the result is not guaranteed, making it less attractive to both doctors and patients.
Rarely, the gallstones may move out of the gallbladder and threaten to obstruct the bile duct. Under such circumstances, an endoscopic procedure known as ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography) may be employed to remove the bile duct stones.
Since this procedure also enlarges the bile duct opening during stone removal, it may potentially minimise future chances of bile duct obstruction and infection.
Do suggest to your uncle to discuss with his surgeons on the risks and benefits of the surgery. He should also understand the risk of not removing the diseased gallbladder so that he can make an informed decision.