Sharp pain in right side after gallbladder surgery
General, Tests & Procedures

What Does Sharp Pain In The Right Side After Gallbladder Surgery Indicate?

Have you gone through a gallbladder removal surgery to put a stop to your pain and suffering? Are you experiencing some sharp pain on the right side after gallbladder surgery? Or are you perhaps looking into the possible complications of gallbladder surgery and feel worried about the possibility of experiencing this common complication?

Do not worry, because what will follow, is a guide for gallbladder removal surgery, and most importantly, why does a sharp pain in the upper right abdomen occur.

Why Is Gallbladder Surgery Performed?

Gallbladder surgery also referred to as cholecystectomy, is a surgical procedure that is performed for the purposes of removing the gallbladder, along with any present gallbladder stones. As you probably know, your gallbladder is a pear-shaped body organ, located in the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the liver. It is responsible for producing and storing bile, which is a digestive fluid needed for the digestion of lipids in the human body.

Gallbladder surgery is required when there is a serious case of gallbladder inflammation, gallstones in the bile duct or gallbladder, and pancreas inflammation. The surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, by inserting a scope with an attached camera to it, and surgical instruments through small incisions on your abdomen. Some surgeons practice the open method of gallbladder surgery, for which a bigger incision is made, and no camera is being used. Gallbladder surgery is quite a common surgical procedure that comes with a low rate of complications. Most patients go home the very same day of their gallbladder surgery.

The Possible Complications Of Gallbladder Surgery

In some cases of gallbladder surgery, certain complications do develop. Mostly, these complications are not life-threatening, but they do require treatment and attention. The most common complications after gallbladder surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Bile leak
  • Blood clots
  • Pneumonia
  • An injury to the bile duct, liver, and small intestines
  • Swelling
  • Reaction to the anesthesia
  • Sharp pain in the right side of the abdomen

Causes Of Sharp Pain In The Right Side After Gallbladder Surgery

Sharp pain in the upper right side of the abdomen right after gallbladder surgery is a symptom that occurs among 5 to 40% of the patients. In most cases, the sharp pain is caused by a condition known as a postcholecystectomy syndrome that causes abdominal symptoms to be present after the removal of the gallbladder. The pain, along with the other symptoms of the syndrome, can be present for a couple of days or weeks, persistent, or in some cases, unfortunately, lifelong.

When we say lifelong, we mean a pain after gallbladder removal that lasts years later after the actual surgery. The cause of the pain is either due to the sphincter of Oddi dysfunction or due to post-surgical adhesions. Both conditions cause severe upper right abdominal pain after gallbladder removal which can spread and move as far as your shoulder. Other symptoms that can occur as bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and flatulence.

Sometimes, the pain can also be caused by the carbon dioxide gas that is being used to fill your abdomen during the laparoscopic procedure. If any of the gas is being left after the surgery, abdominal pain is expected to occur.

How Do You Treat This Pain After Gallbladder Surgery?

In the case of abdominal pain after gallbladder removal, your doctor will give you painkillers to help you soothe your pain. Usually, it is medications such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol that help gallbladder surgery patients. The doctor can also prescribe antispasmodics if there is a present spasm of the Oddi sphincter that has been causing the pain. Applying a cold pack to your incision might prove as helpful as well since you will probably feel pain around the incision site. Avoiding any sudden movements in the first couple of days can help you avoid the pain as well. As for foods to eat after gallbladder surgery, we recommend low-fat foods with no more than 3 gr of fat per serving.

How Long Does The Pain Last After Gallbladder Surgery?

As we mentioned earlier, in most cases, the pain goes away after a couple of days. In some more serious cases of the postcholecystectomy syndrome, the pain can last a couple of months, especially if left untreated. This is a serious problem that requires our attention, and there should not be any hesitation about treating it as soon as possible. And if it the leftover carbon dioxide gas that has been causing your abdominal pain, the pain is expected to go away with the help of over-the-counter painkillers in just a few days.


Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries out there. It is performed as a method to eliminate any gallbladder pain that has been caused due to either inflammation or gallbladder stones. Despite the fact that this surgical procedure is considered to be quite safe, there are some possible complications that can develop. One of those complications is a sharp pain on the right side after gallbladder surgery. Luckily for you, with the help of today’s article, we got through the roots of this common complication, and most importantly we shared some of the best treatment methods that will allow you to get rid of it as soon as possible.

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