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Cholelithiasis after bariatric surgery, incidence, and prophylaxis: randomized controlled trial



Rapid weight loss is associated with a high incidence of cholelithiasis.


To identify the incidence of gallstone formation after weight loss surgery and to detect the efficacy of 6 months regimen of prophylactic Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA).


RCT included a total of 1530 morbid obese patients who were subjected to either laparoscopic one anastomosis gastric bypass (OAGB), sleeve gastrectomy (SG), or greater curve plication (GCP). Patients with previous or concomitant cholecystectomy and missed follow-up were excluded, leaving 1432 patients to analyze. They were randomly allocated into two groups receiving either UDCA or placebo with a minimum follow-up of one year for assessment of cholelithiasis and weight loss.


The overall incidence of cholelithiasis after surgery was 9.7%. There was a significant decrease in the incidence of gallstone formation from 22% in placebo to 6.5% in treated group with UDCA. The mean percentage of excess weight loss (%EWL) was significantly higher in those who develop gallstones than others. Of those developing gallstones, there was 64.7 % with SG versus 28.1% and 7.2% in OAGB and GCP, respectively, which is statistically significant. NNT to prevent cholelithiasis is six, AR% is 70.4%, and RR is 3.4%.


Cholelithiasis after SG and OAGB was higher than GCP. %EWL was rapid and higher in OAGB and SG contributing to the higher rate of symptomatic cholelithiasis and could be predictive for post-bariatric cholelithiasis. A 6-month use of UDCA is an effective prophylaxis decreasing gallstone formation after bariatric surgery at short-term follow-up.

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Correspondence to Ahmed Talha.

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Drs. Ahmed Talha, Tamer Abdelbaki, Ayman Farouk, Ehab Hasouna, Eman Azzam, and Gihan Shehata have no conflicts of interest or financial ties to disclose.

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Talha, A., Abdelbaki, T., Farouk, A. et al. Cholelithiasis after bariatric surgery, incidence, and prophylaxis: randomized controlled trial. Surg Endosc 34, 5331–5337 (2020).

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  • Obesity
  • Gallstones
  • Bariatric surgery
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid