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In contact dissolution of gallstones, methyl tert-butyl ether (MBTE) or n-propyl acetate is repeatedly infused and withdrawn from the gallbladder through a catheter placed percutaneously under ultrasound guidance or at ERCP. The patient is sedated and has a local anaesthetic.
Results are good. In carefully selected patients, over 95% of the stone mass may be dissolved within 12 hours.
Potential problems with the procedure include:
Indications for dissolution are becoming increasingly few since the advent of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. It may have a niche in the treatment of bile duct stones.