Are Gall Bladder Removal and Gout Related?

Gallbladder locationToday, a reader asked me if there was any connection between his gall bladder removal and gout. Specifically he asked,

"I had my gall bladder removed a few years ago and since then I have noticed the gout creeping in.
Is there any significance with that?
Because of the digestion changing (no gall bladder)."

The first thing I have to point out is that I have no medical qualifications. It is always important to seek qualified medical advice when dealing with gout. It is doubly important when another condition co-exists. I have very little information to go on here, so I'll stick to generalities.

From my knowledge of gout, and a quick look for related matter, I would say that there is no obvious connection. I will keep looking. I would appreciate it if anyone else who has any information would let me know, either by commenting below, or in the gout forum.

Possible connections are:

  • The gall bladder (often called gallbladder) produces bile which helps to digest fats and fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Removal of the gallbladder (also called cholecystectomy) means no bile is available to aid digestion. Blood tests should identify any vitamin deficiencies. If there are any such deficiencies these could be investigated for potential links with gout.
  • Lifestyle changes after surgery such as dramatic changes in exercise or weight can affect gout. Exercise risks are usually due to exertion. Rapid weight gain or loss can both cause gout. Being overweight increases the risk of gout.

It may be that gout is just a coincidence, and has nothing to do with gall bladder removal. In any case, it is important to deal with the gout as soon as you can do get uric acid levels down.

You can choose medical treatments to lower your uric acid level, or alternative remedies such as diets and dietary supplements. Whichever you chose, it is important to seek medical advice to ensure that you do not cause additional problems.

Please add your comments about gall bladder removal and gout below.

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14 thoughts on “Are Gall Bladder Removal and Gout Related?

  1. I never had gout until my gallbladder was removed. I started having attacts 3 months after it was removed.

  2. I also developed gout after my gallbladder was removed… I’m convinced thay are related from the numerous testimonals… 38 year old male 6′ 185lb… so far allopurinol hasn’t helped… very painful… antiinflammatories seem to help after gout onset… have also had some success with cherry juice.

  3. I haven’t had my gall baldder removed, but have had issues with gall stones the past several years. I had never had gout before, but I did a liver-gall bladder cleanse 2 months ago, and since then have had 3 serious gout attacks in my big toe.
    My 20 year old son also did the liver-gall bladder cleanse, and since then has had chronic gout as well!
    This is our only connection as to why we suddenly both got gout!

  4. The tendency to have gout runs in families so it is very possible that you didn’t have to do anything. There is no gout gene but there seems to be genes that predispose people to develop hyperuricemia, too much uric acid in the blood. For many gout sufferers, the hyperuricemia precedes the gout often by as much as twenty years. You and your son might have these genes.

    Though younger men do develop gout, it is far more common in men over forty. Bile is produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder. There it becomes more concentrated. The bile does several things including carrying substances (including uric acid) from the liver into the intestines where the uric acid is eliminated. About ninety percent of the hyperuricemics are termed “under secretors” because they do not secrete enough uric acid from their bodies. This lets the uric acid build up in the blood and contribute to gout attacks. About thirty percent of the uric acid is secreted through the intestines in the feces. The body guards the bile very jealously. When the bile has finished transporting the uric acid and other substances, the body reabsorbs the bile through the intestinal lining into the blood. The bile is extracted by the liver and then restored in the gall bladder. Any substance that the body guards jealously is important to the body.

    I don’t know what this liver-gall bladder cleanse is but if you have done something to affect the bile’s ability to transport uric acid, you might have contributed to the gout. What do you do in the liver cleansing?

  5. Had my gall bladder removed in ’94, I believe, as well as my appendix in 1998, and had my first gout attack in like 1999-2000. Always been healthy (white male, 6’2″, 235#, 34-36″ waist) and active with nothing close to anything like this, ever. Still have the attacks from time to time, but have also been told I have ‘elivated liver enzimes’, as well as slightly high cholesteral, ranging from low 200’s to 240, depending on who’s testing (gave blood on March 24th and it was 202 – no fasting, after lunch, etc… had a physical three weeks later and it was 238 – with fasting… go figure).

    So, I’ve dealt with gout-ish symptoms for a while now, from a few ‘full-on… kill me now’ attacks to feeling it coming on, and backing off my triggers (which seem to be alcohol, which I rarely consume these days, and caffiene… sweet tea addiction), which seem to curb the attack, and only produce uncomfortable 1-3 days, but able to keep a shoe on. Other things that I do for my symptoms are the cherry juice (you WILL get to like it, I promise!), Naproxin (anti-inflamitory) and pain medicine in order to sleep (Ibuprophin, etc. but I seem to happen to always have some hydrocodone around). I’ve yet to start on any meds like allopurinol, and the like, and I also have a new prescription to treat the cholesteral, which I am still debating over starting… we’ll see.

    I’ve always thought that there must be a connection to the gall bladder and /or appendix removal or both, but asking doctors from here in the States, as well as ones in the UK when we were living abroad produced varying replies, but always that there was little connection in the theory. Good to see (I mean that in a research way only) that there are more connections to gout sufferers and gall bladder removals… we may be on to something here, and I think we should reach out to otherss we know, get their stories, and provide them to someone researching in this field for… a second opinion… sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    Readers… please take the time to write your story here, if you suffer from gout and have had similar operations, as well as things that have worked for you to ease the pain and/or reduced the attack duration. I’m bookmarking this site, and will check back from time to time.

    All the best with managing your ‘new friend’.

  6. I had my gallbladder removed Aug. 25, 2009. Within a week’s time, I started having pain in some of my toes (both feet, more than just big toes) and some of my fingers (particularly my index fingers). I am a violinist and have never had problems with my fingers before but have had some gout symptoms in my toes over a year ago. Since the pain showed up so soon after surgery, I was wondering if there was a connection. It’s nice to know I am not alone or crazy. My appendix was removed in April 2000. Since my surgery was a little over 3 weeks ago, I haven’t been back to my primary care physician yet to see what she thinks. One gout website recommended using a little heat on the painful areas. That’s helped me and I can wear shoes without pain now and flex my fingers. Another website recommended cherry juice and dairy. I have Celiac Sprue and don’t drink milk because of lactose intolerance. I’m trying to increase my water intake though. Gout and gallbladder/appendix removal a coincidence? Doesn’t look (or feel) like it to me!

  7. I got my gallbladder surgery first week in May 2011, and about three weeks later got Gout in my right big toe. I strongly believe from my experience and several others accounts, that there’s some connection here. Good luck to everyone with Gout. I don’t wish it on anyone.

  8. My husband had chronic gout. After his kidney surgery to remove one kidney because of cancer he had a terrible gout attack. Every single joint in his body was affected. His whole body was swollen, it was terrible. It took months to get this under control. Uric acid was oozing from his finger nails. First let me say that with surgery a gout sufferer can expect a flare because any change in uric acid can cause a flare. The strange thing is that my husband had his gallbladder removed two years ago, he had a slight flare at first but he has not had a gout attack since. I am wondering if the gallbladder has something to do with gout. He has never gone this long without an attack. He still eats all the bad food and drinks alcohal.

    • Hi Faye, please can you clarify if your husband had gout prior to kidney surgery, or did that surgery signal the start of his gout problems? Whichever the case, I’m glad he has no recent attacks. What is his uric acid level from recent blood tests?

  9. Hello all- I had my gall bladder removed 3 weeks ago. I did have some joint pain before surgery but never in my toes? I started having increasing pain in my big toe middle joint and it just hurts! I had never heard of gout. Any way to tell if it is Gout? Will pain continue for days? And does it ever occur in other joints? ( months before surgery i had severe pain “attacks” that would occur sometimes inmy arms and wrists radiating up to the elbow- sometimes knees and ankles. But always very painful. I am only 28 and F. Not sure if that is typical for gout but this thread is making me wonder if it had anything to do with my gallbladder? Any advice appreciated. Thank you!!

    • Hi Colleen,

      Sorry for the delay in replying. We know that surgery can cause gout through increased uric acid levels. I cannot find any evidence to suggest that gallbladder surgery is any worse or better than other types of surgery. Really, this does not matter, because whatever the cause, the only way to control gout is to control uric acid. There are many ways to control uric acid, but it has to start by measuring it with a blood test. Then, all you have to worry about is getting that level safe. 5mg/dL (0.30mmol/L) is safe. Below is fine. Above 6 is a warning. Above 7 is a gout attack waiting to happen, plus severe risk of joint destruction.

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