How to break up gallstones without surgery?

How to break up gallstones without surgery?

Laser lithotripsy is one of the available options for treating small gallstones without the need to perform surgery to remove the gallbladder.

If you suffer from symptoms resulting from gallbladder stones, you are looking for an effective and low-risk way to treat this problem. Lithotripsy is one of the methods currently offered to treat some cases of small-sized gallstones within specific conditions. Laser lithotripsy may be performed by shining a laser precisely in the direction of the stones to break them up. Stones can also be broken up naturally using herbs or medications. Follow us to learn more about how to break up gallstones without surgery.

When can we resort to breaking up gallstones without surgery?

Although breaking up gallstones may seem more accessible and less risky than the complete removal of the gallbladder, Breaking up gallstones is not suitable for treating all cases. Gallbladder removal surgery might be the best option for treatment, especially when there are many stones causing inflammation in the gallbladder; nowadays, the removal surgery can be performed through safe, minimally invasive methods such as using a surgical endoscope or a robot.

Gallstones may not require any treatment if they do not cause disturbing symptoms and problems for the patient. Still, when you feel abdominal pain, this usually indicates that the stones have blocked your bile duct, and the need to treat the stones appears until the symptoms disappear.

Suppose the number of stones exceeds three stones, or the stones are large (more than 30 mm). In that case, gallbladder removal may be the best treatment because the stones usually form again after breaking them up. There is no need to worry about removal surgery, as a person can live without a gallbladder.

Doctors reserve the option of non-surgical laser lithotripsy for cases associated with symptoms, and the size of the stones is small, and their number is less than three stones. Lithotripsy is often performed with ultrasound waves when only one stone is found in the normal functioning gallbladder.

This picture shows the presence of a gallstone blocking the bile duct, which requires the need to break up gallstones to relieve symptoms.
A gallstone that causes symptoms as a result of blocking the bile duct

How to break up gallstones without surgery?

The method of breaking up stones in the gallbladder is similar to breaking up kidney and ureter stones, with minor differences, such as the nature of the stones and how they are thrown out after completing their breaking up process. kidney stones passes out of the body and is usually made up of calcium.

There are 5 ways to break up gallstones without surgery, which are as follows:

Breaking up gallstones with ultrasound

The use of sound waves to treat gallstones began in the eighties of the last century, and this technique has developed with time, as this method is not limited to the treatment of gallstones only, but it can also break up kidney stone.

This procedure involves using a modern device that generates sound waves capable of breaking stones into small parts so that the body can efficiently excrete them. This procedure may be performed in the doctor's outpatient clinic and does not require any anesthesia or hospitalization. It is a good option for Patients who can't undergo gallbladder removal surgery.

The ideal candidate for Breaking up gallstones with ultrasound is the patient who has a few small gallstones with a gallbladder that has a normal function.

Ultrasound device for breaking gallstones
Breaking up gallstones with ultrasound

Laser lithotripsy of gallstones

Recent studies have proven the effectiveness of helium lasers in breaking up small gallstones by using endoscopes to reach the gallstones in the gallbladder, after which the laser is accurately activated, and these stones are broken up into small pieces and collected through a basket inserted with the endoscope.

As is the case in Laser lithotripsy gallstones must have specific specifications to be broken up by laser; the most important of these specifications is their small size and number. A study that laser lithotripsy of bile duct stones is effective and safe.

Breaking up gallstones naturally with herbs

Eating some foods and herbs is still not proven for their ability to treat and break up gallstones. However, there are popular recipes that are believed to contribute to cleaning the gallbladder of stones, including:

  • Drink apple cider vinegar to facilitate the removal of gallstones
  • Dandelion herb
  • Milk thistle plant
  • psyllium husk
  • Lysimachia herb
  • Castor oil
  • Citric acid
Apple juice is one of the best ways to break up gallstones naturally
Apple juice is a natural way to break up gallstones

Medicines to break up gallstones

Some medications may help facilitate the breaking up of gallstones and reduce the percentage of their formation. Still, their effect may take a long time to appear clearly and may last months to several years, so they are not commonly used.

Among these drugs is Ursodiol and Quinodiol chenodiol And other drugs that reduce the intensity of bile secretions.

Laparoscopic removal of gallstones

Usually, complete gallbladder removal is performed through a laparoscope in more safety compared to traditional open surgery. Still, the doctor may also use the laparoscope to perform therapeutic maneuvers that break up the stones without removing the gallbladder, such as using the helium laser, as we mentioned earlier.

Advantages of breaking up gallstones without surgery

Among the advantages of dissolving gallstones without surgery are the following:

  • May prevent the need for gallbladder removal surgery
  • low risk as it is a minimally invasive procedure
  • An easy-to-apply treatment that requires no recovery time
  • The cost is lower than gallbladder removal

Disadvantages of breaking up gallstones without surgery

Gallbladder stone breaking up may be associated with some disadvantages when compared to the complete removal of the gallbladder, including:

  • Re-formation of the gallstones
  • Not suitable treatment for all cases
  • It does not always succeed in breaking up the stones
  • There are still few studies regarding laser treatment of gallstones
  • ultrasound waves may cause slight redness where they are applied

In the end, Breaking up gallstones by ultrasound waves or laser lithotripsy is one of the methods of treating gallstones without performing surgery that may carry the risk of side complications. Some medications may also help treat gallstones; preparing a mixture of natural drinks, such as apple cider vinegar juice, can help purifies the gallbladder and cleans it of stones. However, these treatments are not suitable for all patients with gallstones. Instead, their use is limited to some cases, such as the small size of the stone. Removing the gallbladder is the best treatment to eliminate the problem of recurrent gallstones in most cases.


  1. Johns Hopkins
  2. Medical News Today
  3. Wikipedia

Frequently Asked Questions

Gallstones can block the ducts through which the secreted bile passes from your liver to the small intestine, which may lead to obstructive liver damage manifesting as jaundice and other digestive symptoms.

Gallstones are not dangerous, but there are rare cases of solid gallstones that may cause life-threatening complications when left untreated. Especially in people who have some conditions such as pancreatitis or a problem with the bile ducts.

The effectiveness of olives is not confirmed in breaking up gallstones, but there is a common belief in their ability to clean and purify the gallbladder from stones.

The price varies from one case to another due to the difference in the number and size of stones and the period a person must be exposed to during the treatment of stones with shock waves. The average cost is estimated at $ 2000 with the possibility of an increase. You can contact us to request more details.

If you are planning for treatment in Turkey
you can talk to us here.

If you are planning for treatment in Turkey
you can talk to us here.