Discharge Instructions for Gallstones 

Gallstones form when liquid stored in the gallbladder hardens into pieces of stone-like material. Stones in the gallbladder may or may not cause symptoms. They can cause pain or infection. You and your healthcare provider will decide on the best treatment for you. Here's what you can do.

Home care

These home care steps can help you after being diagnosed with gallstones:

  • Eat a low-fat diet. Fatty foods cause the gallbladder to release bile to help digest the fats. This can commonly cause pain with gallstones.

    • Read food labels to be sure the foods you are choosing are low in fat.

    • Limit the use of high-fat meats, dairy products, animal fats, and vegetable oils.

  • Keep all appointments with your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider needs to monitor your condition.

  • Discuss your treatment choices with your healthcare provider, including:

    • Surgery to remove the gallbladder and gallstones

    • Medicine to dissolve the stones. This is mainly for people who can't have surgery. Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don't skip doses. Remember, it takes time for the medicine to take effect. Once the medicine is stopped, the gallstones usually come back. Also, the medicine doesn't work for all types of gallstones.

    • ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography). A healthcare provider uses a thin tube with video and X-rays to locate stones and remove them from the common bile duct.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment, or as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Severe pain in the upper belly, shoulder, or back

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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