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Asymptomatic gallstones in the laparoscopic era.

Recent introduction of new treatment options has significantly altered the approach towards gallstone management. There is now general agreement that cholecystectomy is the treatment of choice for symptomatic gallstones. Controversy, however, exists as to the management of asymptomatic gallstones. The ready availability of abdominal ultrasonography for the investigation of a wide range of abdominal symptoms has resulted in the increased diagnosis of asymptomatic gallstones. Management of such accidentally discovered gallstones poses a dilemma as conclusive evidence of the benefits of cholecystectomy is lacking. This is further complicated by the fact that the majority of asymptomatic gallstones remain so and patients rarely experience symptoms or complications. Furthermore, cholecystectomy is associated with a low but recognised morbidity. Recent introduction of laparoscopic cholecystectomy as the treatment of choice of symptomatic gallstones has further complicated the issue of asymptomatic gallstone management. This article reviews the current management of asymptomatic gallstones in the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy

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