Are gallstones fatal?

Gallstones themselves are not fatal. However, they can cause many complications that could be fatal. Fortunately, this is a rare event. If a large stone blocks your bile ducts after leaving the gallbladder, there could be a build-up of bile in the gallbladder and ducts, causing severe pain and an infection within the ducts. This is an urgent medical situation that needs prompt treatment, such as an emergency endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). Of course, all medical procedures—such as ERCP and cholecystectomy—have risks.

How quickly will I recover from gallstones?

If gallstones cause symptoms, then you may need surgery. If you have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (minimally invasive procedure to remove the gallbladder) without any complications, you may be home within 24 hours. If there are complicating factors—swelling of the gallbladder, infection, a blocked duct or other medical conditions may need to have an open surgery. If that happens, your hospital stay could be about three to five days.

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