About Post Cholecystectomy Syndrome

Updated March 23, 2017

Cholecystectomy is a medical operation performed thousands of times each year. A cholecystectomy is the primary treatment for pain and discomfort caused by the discomfort of gallstones. While many individuals live normally without a gallbladder after the surgery, others experience bothersome symptoms. When these symptoms are chronic and persistent, they are referred to as Post-cholecystectomy Syndrome.

What is Post-cholecystectomy Syndrome?

Post-cholecystectomy Syndrome, or PCS, is a condition that occurs after a cholecystectomy, which is the removal of the gallbladder. Gallbladders are typically removed when complications arise from the presence of gallstones. The condition may be comprised of symptoms that existed prior to the cholecystectomy surgery or it may be new symptoms that followed the cholecystectomy.

What Causes Post-cholecystectomy Syndrome?

PCS is caused by changes that occur in how the bile flows within the body without a functioning gallbladder to store excess bile. Problems may occur as excess bile flows into the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract continuously. This problem may lead to gastritis and esophagitis. Another problem may occur in the lower portion of the gastrointestinal tract. Problems in this area may cause pain in the lower abdominal area and diarrhoea.

Prevalence of Post-cholecystectomy Syndrome

According to a study published by the National Health Institute, about 40 per cent of cholecystectomy patients have one or more abdominal symptoms after the operation. According to WebMD, about 10-to-15 per cent are affected by PCS. However, in most cases the PCS diagnosis will typically be replaced by a more exact diagnosis after medical evaluations. About 95 per cent of those individuals with PCS will receive a new diagnosis.


Individuals with PCS may experience symptoms that vary by type and number. Symptoms may include fever, nausea, colic, stomach pain, excess gas, diarrhoea, indigestion and jaundice. The most common symptoms tend to be associated with stomach discomfort and digestive problems. Symptoms range in severity from mildly annoying to debilitating.


Treatments vary according to the final diagnosis. Those patients who are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, may be treated with fibre supplements, sedatives and antispasmodics. Patients with chronic diarrhoea may find some relief from cholestyramine. Individuals with gastrointestinal reflux disease may use proton pump or histamine blockers. Antacids may also help. In some cases, additional surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

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About the Author

Based in Laurel, Miss., Melody Morgan Hughes covers topics related to education, money and health. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English education from the University of Southern Mississippi, a Master of Education from William Carey University and a Master of Education from Nova Southeastern University.