Low-fat diet after cholecystectomy: Should it be systematically recommended?

Cir Esp (Engl Ed). 2020 Jan;98(1):36-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ciresp.2019.05.009. Epub 2019 Oct 14.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Introduction: Even though evidence is lacking, a low-fat diet has been traditionally recommended after cholecystectomy. The main aim of this study was to assess the potential correlation between postoperative symptoms and type of diet after cholecystectomy.

Methods: Symptoms were prospectively assessed by the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index (GIQLI) score at baseline, one month and 6 months after cholecystectomy in 83 patients operated on at our institution. Patients completed a questionnaire about their diet and were classified into 4 groups according to the amount of fat intake. Differences in the GIQLI score depending on the type of diet were assessed over time.

Results: The overall GIQLI score and most subdomains significantly increased after surgery compared to baseline, regardless of the intake of dietary fat. Constipation improved after cholecystectomy compared to baseline, whereas diarrhea and bowel urgency got worse. More than 50% of patients experienced a change in their bowel habit after surgery, which persisted 6 months later in 23% of cases.

Conclusions: A low fat diet does not seem to have an influence on the improvement of symptoms after cholecystectomy. However, a randomized study is ongoing at our institution to confirm the results of this prospective study.

Keywords: Cholecystectomy; Colecistectomía; Diarrea; Diarrhea; Dieta baja en grasas; Low-fat diet; Post-cholecystectomy syndrome; Síndrome poscolecistectomía.

MeSH terms

  • Cholangitis / surgery
  • Cholecystectomy* / adverse effects
  • Cholecystitis / surgery
  • Choledocholithiasis / surgery
  • Colic / surgery
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatitis / surgery
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life