Discharge Instructions for Gallstones

Gallstones are loose lumps of hard material like stone. They can form in the gallbladder. This is a small organ that stores bile. Bile is a liquid that helps you digest fats. Gallstones can form when this liquid hardens. The stones may not cause symptoms. Or they can cause pain or infection. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best treatment for your stones.

Home care

To help prevent symptoms:

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

  • Limit fatty dairy foods, animal fats, and vegetable oils.

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

Keep all appointments with your healthcare provider. They need to track your condition. Talk about treatment choices with your provider. They include:

  • Surgery. This can be done to remove the gallbladder and gallstones.

  • Medicine. This can be used to dissolve the stones. This is for people who can't have surgery. Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don't skip doses. It takes time for the medicine to work. When you stop the medicine, the gallstones will likely come back. The medicine doesn't work for all types of gallstones.

  • ERCP. This means endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. This procedure is done with a thin tube that has a video camera. X-rays are used to find the stones. They are then removed from the common bile duct.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as advised.

When to call your healthcare provider

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

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

  • Fever of 100.4°F ( 38°C) or higher

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)

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