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How to Know If You Pass a Gallstone

Updated March 23, 2017

A small organ located beneath the liver, the gallbladder collects and stores bile made by the liver. Bile assists in digestion by moving water and waste fats out of the body. Occasionally, bile crystallises in the gallbladder, forming tiny stones made of salts, cholesterol and bilirubin (the pigment that gives bile its colour). Most gallstones pass through the intestines with solid waste without any symptoms, while others, due to size, can get stuck in narrow sections of the digestive system, causing pain. Sifting your faeces is the only sure way to tell if you have passed a gallstone.

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  1. Do not flush the toilet after you pass solid waste.

  2. Place on protective latex gloves.

  3. Lift the mass of faeces into the old strainer.

  4. Sift through the faeces for small stones. These gallstones can be as small as the head of a pin or as large as a quarter. They may also be black, brown or dark green in colour.

  5. Rinse any stones you find an place in sealable container. Bring this container to your next medical appointment to confirm that the stones are gallstones.

  6. Flush remaining fecal matter and dispose of latex gloves safely, away from children or pets.

  7. Clean strainer with a bleach and water solution, and then wash your hands with soap and water.

  8. Tip

    Consult with your health care practitioner to determine your risk for, or presence of, gallstones. Risks include high-fat diets, being female or being overweight. Gallstones can be located with an ultrasound or a CAT scan.


    Whether or not you expect to pass a gallstone, if you experience any pain, you should seek immediate medical care. Do not use the strainer for any other purpose after you have used it to look for gallstones.

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Things You'll Need

  • Latex gloves
  • Old strainer
  • Sealable container such as an old jar
  • Bleach and water solution
  • Soap and water

About the Author

A writer and professional lab assistant based in Seattle, Kate Bruscke has been writing professionally about health care and technology since 1998. Her freelance clients include "The Seattle Times," KGB.com, Reading Local: Seattle, Nordstrom and MSN/Microsoft. Bruscke holds a Master of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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