Pain persists in many patients five years after removal of the gallbladder: observations from two randomized controlled trials of symptomatic, noncomplicated gallstone disease and acute cholecystitis

J Gastrointest Surg. 2005 Jul-Aug;9(6):826-31. doi: 10.1016/j.gassur.2005.01.291.


After removal of the gallbladder, pain may persist in some patients. To study this condition, 124 patients from two randomized trials, including those with symptomatic noncomplicated gallbladder stones (n = 90) and acute cholecystitis (n = 34), were interviewed, while 139 patients (90%) excluded from both trials responded to a questionnaire 5 years after the operation. Thirty-four patients (27%) of those randomized had pain; 23 (18%) had diffuse, steady pain; and 11 (9%) had pain attacks resembling their preoperative symptoms. A significant dominance of diffuse pain occurred in women (P = 0.024), especially those younger than 60 years (P = 0.004). A tendency for the diffuse type to be dominant was also present in the group of female patients with symptomatic noncomplicated gallbladder stones (P = 0.052). Of the excluded patients, 18% (25/139) had pain, but 88% of them (96% of the men and 87% of the women) were satisfied with the result of the operation. The overall number of patients with postoperative pain was 22% (59/263). We conclude that persisting abdominal pain 5 years after the operation was mainly of a nonspecific type, found mostly in younger women who had had noncomplicated gallstone disease. Eighty-eight percent of the excluded patients declared themselves satisfied with the result of cholecystectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholecystectomy / adverse effects*
  • Cholecystectomy / methods
  • Cholecystitis / diagnosis
  • Cholecystitis / surgery*
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnosis
  • Cholelithiasis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / diagnosis*
  • Pain, Postoperative / epidemiology*
  • Probability
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors