Medication for Gallstones

The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications only as recommended or prescribed by your doctor. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Prescription Medications

  • Bile Acids
  • Pain Medications

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Prescription Medications

Bile Acids
  • Ursodiol (Ursodeoxycholic Acid)
  • Chenodiol (Chenodeoxycholic Acid)

Bile acids are used to dissolve certain types of gallstones. It may take months or years before all the stones dissolve.

Note: Do not take Ursodiol with aluminum-containing antacids, such as AlternaGEL or Maalox Advanced Regular Strength, because the aluminum may interfere with the action of ursodiol.

A possible side effect is mild diarrhea.

Pain Medications
  • Diclofenac (Voltaren)
  • Ketorolac (Toradol)

These medications are prescription NSAIDs used to relieve pain caused by gallstones.

Possible side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness

Over-the-Counter Medications

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, to control pain
When to Contact Your Doctor

Severe abdominal pain, stomach pain, or severe nausea and vomiting may be a sign that you have another medical problem or that your gallstones require a different treatment.

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share your medicine.
  • Ask what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor if any occur.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed with other medications. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medication. This includes over-the-counter medicine and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.

Revision Information

  • Adler DG, Baron TH, et al. ASGE guideline: the role of ERCP in diseases of the biliary tract and the pancreas. Gastrointest Endosc. 2005;62:1-8.

  • Ahmed A, Cheung RC, et al. Management of gallstones and their complications. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:1673-1678.

  • Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated October 23, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2013.

  • Portincasa P, Moschetta A, et al. Cholesterol gallstone disease. Lancet. 2006;368:230-239.

  • Portincasa P, Di Ciaula A, et al. Medicinal treatments of cholesterol gallstones: old, current and new perspectives. Curr Med Chem. 2009;16(12):1531-1542. Review.

  • 3/1/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Maalox Total Relief and Maalox liquid products: medication use errors. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm200672.htm. Published February 17, 2010. Accessed December 5, 2013.

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