Diagnosing Digestive Problems After Gallbladder Surgery

By: GI Alliance


You followed the pre-op instructions to a T. The procedure went swimmingly. And while the pain has disappeared with your gallbladder, now you’re dealing with some less than ideal side effects.

We’ve gathered a list of the potential side effects that you may experience following a laparoscopic or open gallbladder removal procedure, as well as steps for treating these unfortunate side effects.

Let’s check it out.

Temporary/Chronic Diarrhea: Patients can sometimes experience temporary diarrhea following a gallbladder removal surgery because the gallbladder is no longer there to regulate the flow of bile, which can result in a smaller, more constant flow of bile into your small intestine. While each person adapts differently to surgery and it may take a variable amount of time for different people, you should not be suffering from distressing symptoms, especially due to postcholecystectomy diarrhea. If your symptoms persist for more than a few days, please contact your gastroenterologist. Chronic diarrhea can be managed with a low-fat diet as well as medication for binding excess acids in the digestive system. It is amazing (and sad) to see how many patients come years after their gallbladder surgery, having been troubled by chronic diarrhea for years, only to be fixed easily by a gastroenterologist.

Constipation: Post-surgery pain medication immediately after surgery—especially if they are opioid—may cause constipation. By consuming a diet high in fiber, you can prevent/relieve constipation. Sometimes you need other laxatives to be prescribed as well. It is best to rectify the problem ASAP, before it causes fecal impaction and abdominal pain, etc.

Retained stone: If stones traveled from your gallbladder prior to its removal, they can still cause pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, bloating, and jaundice. You may need an additional procedure to remove gallstones that are retained in your common bile duct.

If you have persistent symptoms after surgery, you need evaluation to decide if the cause of pain is something else. Retained stones in the bile duct or even new stones that may develop after surgery cause symptoms and abnormal labs that help in the right diagnosis if evaluated appropriately.

Intestinal injury: Instruments used in surgery could damage your intestines—resulting in abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever. It’s vital to seek immediate medical attention if you experiencing any of these symptoms.

If you are experiencing these or any other symptoms that you believe may be linked to your gallbladder removal, please contact a gastroenterologist immediately. The digestive specialists at GI Alliance are here to guide you on your path to digestive health. Click Here to Find a Location Near You