Ursodeoxycholic Acid in the Prevention of Gallstone Formation After Bariatric Surgery: an Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Obes Surg. 2017 Nov;27(11):3021-3030. doi: 10.1007/s11695-017-2924-y.


We aim to review the available literature on obese patients treated with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in order to prevent gallstone formation after bariatric surgery. A systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Cochrane library, and Scopus databases, in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. Eight studies met the inclusion criteria incorporating 1355 patients. Random-effects meta-analysis showed a lower incidence of gallstone formation in patients taking UDCA. Subgroup analysis reported fewer cases of gallstone disease in the UDCA group in relation to different bariatric procedures, doses of administered UDCA, and time from bariatric surgery. Adverse events were similar in both groups. Fewer patients required cholecystectomy in UDCA group. No deaths were reported. The administration of UDCA after bariatric surgery seems to prevent gallstone formation.

Keywords: Bariatric surgery; Gallstone; Gallstone prevention; Meta-analysis; Ursodeoxycholic acid.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bariatric Surgery / adverse effects*
  • Bariatric Surgery / rehabilitation
  • Bariatric Surgery / statistics & numerical data
  • Chemoprevention / methods
  • Cholecystectomy / statistics & numerical data
  • Gallstones / epidemiology
  • Gallstones / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / drug therapy*
  • Obesity, Morbid / epidemiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid