Pain After Gallbladder Removal

People are often mystified as to how they can have pain in the gallbladder region when they no longer have a gallbladder. Justly so.

There are several possibilities for this and there are several different kinds of pain as well as locations of that pain. Also, the pain can vary from mild to severe and be isolated pain or pain that is accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, gas and bloating, or heartburn.

Pain After Gallbladder Removal

It is only natural to have some discomfort for the weeks following surgery itself as the body adjusts to the invasion and ensuing inflammation. Then there may be some annoyance as it figures out how to reroute the bile, just as a newborn experiences colic as the digestive system is exposed to food for the first time. But that makes sense for a few weeks; it doesn’t account for the pain that starts months or years post-cholecystectomy.

Reasons for Pain After Gallbladder Removal

1. Gallstones blocking the bile ducts cause a gallstone attack. SOD or sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction can also simulate attacks.

2. Pulling on the scar tissue in the local area can cause pain.

3. Hypertension from backup of bile in the common bile ducts and possibly the hepatic ducts can create discomfort from the pressure build-up, and the bile duct dilation itself.

4. Cystic duct remnant is where the stump of the duct left from gallbladder removal fills up with bile, sludge, or even stones. This can be felt as a lump upon palpation and can cause pain.

5. Inflammation in the area or referred from SOD. This can be upper right quadrant pain or in the area of the sphincter of Oddi to the right of the navel and could extend into the pancreas on the left.

6. Heartburn, newly developed since surgery or worse than it was before removal, is due to the toxicity of the bile which has a preponderance of fat-soluble bile acids to the water-soluble acids. The fat-soluble bile, when out of balance, is more caustic and causes inflammation in its wake. This includes all bile ducts, the sphincter of Oddi, the duodenum and the rest of the intestines, as well as the pyloric sphincter which usually keeps food, bile and pancreatic enzymes from backing up into the stomach. When this sphincter becomes inflamed, the bile refluxes into the stomach where it mixes with stomach acid and causes burning.