Can ursodeoxycholic acid treatment and dietary modification prevent formation of gallstones (cholelithiasis)?

Updated: Apr 01, 2019
  • Author: Douglas M Heuman, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Ursodeoxycholic acid treatment can prevent gallstone formation. This has been demonstrated in the setting of rapid weight loss caused by very low-calorie diets or by bariatric surgery, which are associated with a high risk of new cholesterol gallstones (20%-30% within 4 mo). Administration of ursodeoxycholic acid at a dose of 600 mg daily for 16 weeks reduces the incidence of gallstones by 80% in this setting.

Recommending dietary changes of decreased fat intake is prudent; this may decrease the incidence of biliary colic attacks. However, it has not been shown to cause dissolution of stones.

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