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Randomized, Prospective Comparison of Ursodeoxycholic Acid for the Prevention of Gallstones after Sleeve Gastrectomy

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Several studies have examined the role of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) for the prevention of cholelithiasis (gallstones) following rapid weight loss from restrictive diets, vertical band gastroplasty, and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. However, to date, there have been no prospective, controlled studies examining the role of UDCA for the prevention of gallstones following sleeve gastrectomy (SG). This study was conducted to identify the effectiveness of UDCA for prevention of gallstones after SG.


Following SG, eligible patients were randomized to a control group who did not receive UDCA treatment or to a group who were prescribed 300 mg UDCA twice daily for 6 months. Gallbladder ultrasounds were performed preoperatively and at 6 and 12 months postoperatively. Patients with positive findings preoperatively were excluded from the study. Compliance with UDCA was assessed.


Between December 2011 and April 2013, 37 patients were randomized to the UDCA treatment arm and 38 patients were randomized to no treatment. At baseline, the two groups were similar. At 6 months, the UDCA group had a statistically significant lower incidence of gallstones (p = 0.032). Analysis revealed no significant difference in gallstones between the two groups at 1 year (p = 0.553 and p = 0.962, respectively). The overall gallstone formation rate was 29.8 %.


The incidence of gallstones is higher than previously estimated in SG patients. UDCA significantly lowers the gallstone formation rate at 6 months postoperatively.

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Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article (does not apply).

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Correspondence to Craig Chang.

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Adams, L.B., Chang, C., Pope, J. et al. Randomized, Prospective Comparison of Ursodeoxycholic Acid for the Prevention of Gallstones after Sleeve Gastrectomy. OBES SURG 26, 990–994 (2016).

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