Pain persists after gallbladder removal

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DEAR DR. GOTT: Since I had my non-functioning gallbladder removed six months ago, I continue to have occasional discomfort where it used to be. It can be random sharp pains to a dull ache and does not seem to be affected by food. It is always in the same spot (right upper quadrant, beneath the rib cage) and sometimes the pain will radiate to my back. Some of my co-workers also have similar symptoms that have continued since their gallbladder removals. I am a nurse and we often talk about our various symptoms.

Can you give me any insight into this phenomenon?

DEAR READER: Your experience appears to be common among individuals who have had gallbladder removal surgery. In fact is it so common it has been titled postcholecystectomy syndrome. It occurs in 5-40% of all patients following gallbladder removal.

Symptoms may include persistent upper right abdomen pain, gas, bloating, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Diarrhea from this disorder can be eased by taking the medication cholestyramine.

Pain that persists should be followed up with your gastroenterologist to ensure that another condition, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, pancreatitis, peptic ulcers, or sludge in the bile duct are not to blame.

To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Gallbladder Disease”. Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed 4 ¼” X 9 ½” letter-sized stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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