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Cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder. It is the most common method for treating symptomatic gallstones. Surgical options include the standard procedure, called laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and an older more invasive procedure, called open cholecystectomy. A cholecystectomy is performed when attempts to treat gallstones with ultrasound to shatter the stones (lithotripsy) or medications to dissolve them have not proved feasible.