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Having your gallbladder drained or having a tube fitted

BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for people who have an inflamed gallbladder. It tells you about treatments used for an inflamed gallbladder other than surgery .

Do they work?

We haven't looked at the research on these treatments in the same detail we have for most of the treatments we cover. (To read more, see Our method.) But we've included some information because you may be interested in them.

What are they?

Doctors agree that surgery to take out your gallbladder is the best treatment if it is inflamed.

But you may not be able to have surgery because you have other medical problems. For example, you may have trouble with your heart or your lungs. Or you may simply not want to have surgery.

Your doctor may offer you other treatments, described below, if you can't or don't want to have your gallbladder taken out.

Draining your gallbladder

With this treatment, the bile that is trapped in your inflamed gallbladder is drained out. You might have this treatment on its own, or you might have it before surgery to remove your gallbladder (to learn more, see Draining an inflamed gallbladder before surgery to remove it).

You have a local anaesthetic first. This means you will be awake but you won't feel anything.

Your doctor makes a small cut in your abdomen. Then he or she passes a thin tube through your liver and into your gallbladder. The trapped bile flows out through the tube.

Doctor call this treatment percutaneous cystostomy.

A similar treatment uses a needle to suck the bile out instead. [123] That treatment is called gallbladder aspiration.

Having a tube fitted to bypass the blockage

For this treatment, your doctor passes a tube through your mouth, down your throat and into your stomach and bowel. The tube is called an endoscope. It has a tiny camera on it. And your doctor can pass tools through it.

Your doctor puts in a special tube to go around the one that is blocked by the gallstone (your bile duct). One end of the tube sits in your gallbladder. The other end sits in your bowel.

This tube lets the trapped bile flow out of your gallbladder without going through your blocked bile duct.

Doctors call this treatment endoscopic retrograde cannulation of the gallbladder.



Your liver is on the right side of your body, just below your ribcage. Your liver does several things in your body, including processing and storing nutrients from food, and breaking down chemicals, such as alcohol.

local anaesthetic

A local anaesthetic is a painkiller that's used to numb one part of your body. You usually get local anaesthetics as injections.

For more terms related to Gallstones


For references related to Gallstones click here.
Last Updated: November 23, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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