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Chronic Diarrhea After Gallbladder Surgery

Q: Six months ago I had my gallbladder removed and ever since then everything I eat goes right through me. Sometimes it travels so fast I can't make it to the bathroom in time! As if that isn't embarrassing enough, I also have uncontrollable flatulence. What do you suggest?

Dr. Donnica: It sounds like you have a classic case of dumping syndrome, which is a complication of cholycystectomy (gallbladder removal). Some doctors also call this "post-cholycystectomy syndrome." The most common symptoms after gallbladder surgery are indigestion, flatulence, and bloating. Diarrhea is also fairly common.

You need to discuss these symptoms with your physician. The diarrhea probably results from bile acids being dumped into the large intestine, causing extra secretion of water and electrolytes into the intestine. This is often associated with lower abdominal cramping as well. The good news is treatment with cholestyramine (Questran or Prevalite) is often successful and is available by prescription only as a powder that you mix with orange juice or another beverage. This medicine is primarily used to treat elevated cholesterol, so a bonus benefit is that yours may be lowered as a result.

Created: 12/4/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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