Nonsurgical gallstone treatments include waiting for the stones to dissolve on their own, taking a bile salt-based drug that dissolves the stones, shock wave therapy or inserting a special drug directly into the gallbladder through a catheter, according to WebMD. These treatments do not prevent the issue from recurring.
Before surgery is considered, many doctors choose to wait and see if the stones dissolve on their own or become inactive without intervention, says WebMD. Through this time, the patient's symptoms are monitored carefully, and surgery is not considered unless the problem reoccurs at a later time.
Noninvasive treatments are used when a patient cannot or refuses to undergo surgery, but they are only effective toward current gallstones, claims WebMD. Doctors may prescribe a medication that contains bile salt to dissolve gallstones caused by high cholesterol. The treatment is slow, and some individuals may need to take the medication for several years. Another treatment involving the pill uses shock wave therapy in the form of high-frequency sound waves to weaken the stones before the bile salt dissolves them.
A less popular treatment used by doctors involves administering a special drug directly into the gallbladder, but the treatment is typically seen as an experiment, according to WebMD. The drug is administered through a catheter inserted into the gallbladder through the abdomen.