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Stabbing Pain After Gallbladder Removal: 6 Signs of Complications

Without a gallbladder, bile moves from your liver to your intestines for digestion. Usually, you can return home the same day you had your surgery. Still, there are some possibilities that you might face complications after gallbladder removal. Often, you will sense some pain after the operation.

What are the causes of stabbing pain after gallbladder removal?

Gallbladder surgery could injure nearby organs like the hepatic duct or intestines. You might need an extra procedure if this occurs. It is also conceivable that bile might spurt into the abdomen after surgery. Many patients recover without painkillers, but some will need them for a few days.

Yet, most complications from gallbladder surgery are rare. That means they seldom occur, so don’t fear! If you worry about any possible difficulties, consult your surgeon. With that, you’ll be able to prevent the stabbing pain and many other disturbing symptoms.

Post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS) results in stabbing pain after gallbladder removal. Yet, it is identical to patients with cholecystitis before cholecystectomy.

Table of Content

Can Gallbladder Hurt After Removal?

Did you know that you can still survive without a gallbladder? Otherwise, gallbladder removal would not be such a popular surgery. Yet, surviving without an organ and living a healthy life without it are two different things.

Gallbladder removal surgery is also known as cholecystectomy. Following a cholecystectomy, you are more inclined to develop health issues. For instance, you are at greater risk of developing altered bowel habits. 

Bile is necessary for fats and protein digestion. Likewise, it can metabolize fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. When it is no longer stored in the gallbladder, it can lead to unpleasant manifestations. 


Not only those, but gallbladder removal can result in discomfort and ache. So is pain common after gallbladder removal? What are the causes of pain on right side 3 weeks after gallbladder removal?

Is It Normal to Have Sharp Pain after Gallbladder Surgery?

Everyone’s recovery is different. To be precise, it can take your body 1-4 weeks to heal from gallbladder surgery. During recovery, you may have stool color changes. Sharp pain in gallbladder area after removal is normal. Moreover, it is the worst in the first few days.

Thus, you should only need complete rest for the first 3 days. After that, try to get up and walk as soon as possible. Being energetic may even help you recover faster. 

But the pain will worsen with specific movements like getting out of bed and climbing stairs. Your body is the best at telling you when you’ve reached your limit. So listen and rest when it shows you.

Signs of Complications after Gallbladder Surgery

Gallbladder removal is a safe procedure. But like all other surgeries, there’s a chance of complications. What are the problems after gallbladder removal years later? Here are a few acute and chronic complications and signs you may experience:

Wound Infection

Some individuals have an internal infection after gallbladder removal. Signs of possible infection are stabbing pain after gallbladder removal and pus leakage. With that, you may need a brief course of antibiotics.


Bleeding may appear post-operation, although this is rare. If it happens, you may need a second surgery to control it.

Bile leakage

Special clips seal the tube linking the gallbladder to the main bile duct during surgery. Yet, bile fluid can still spread into the tummy after gallbladder removal. Symptoms of a bile leak are fever and sharp stabbing pain after gallbladder removal.

Injury to the bile duct

The bile duct is often impaired during the removal procedure. If this happens during surgery, operate all at once.


Injury to the surrounding organs

The surgical instruments can remove organs, like the intestine, liver, and blood vessels. But sometimes, it can be unintentional. Thus, injuries appear later with stabbing pain months after gallbladder removal. So further follow-up is necessary.

Deep vein thrombosis

Some people are at a higher risk of blood clots developing after immobilization. In that case, people who underwent surgery should be aware and alert of this condition. This condition is deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and often occurs in a leg vein. DVT can be life-threatening as the clot obstructs the blood flow into the lungs.

Sharp Pain in Liver Area after Gallbladder Removal

Post-cholecystectomy syndrome (PCS) results in stabbing pain after gallbladder removal. Yet, it is identical to patients with cholecystitis before cholecystectomy. Some people share signs comparable to those caused by gallstones, including:

  • a spiking body temperature 
  • altered bowel habit
  • indigestion
  • stomach ache
  • yellowish discoloration of the sclera and skin

PCS is due to bile leakage into sites like the abdomen or leftover gallstones in the bile ducts. Post-cholecystectomy syndrome can present right after the operative period. But it can also manifest years later. 

Certain factors make an individual more attainable to develop PCS. For example, acute surgery and the presence of cholelithiasis. Studies have evolved since the use of endoscopic procedures for diagnostic purposes. Still, PCS pathophysiology is not well understood.

Pain in Rib Cage after Gallbladder Surgery

Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction (SOD) causes burning pain after gallbladder surgery. The main symptom of SOD is extreme pain in the rib cage that comes and goes after surgery. 


Besides, the symptoms can feel equal to a gallbladder attack. You may have pain in your upper abdomen that radiates into your right shoulder. 

Other than that, chest pain that imitates a heart attack is typical, too. This pain is very comparable to gallbladder ache. But people still complain of having this discomfort after their gallbladder removal.

Sometimes SOD results in pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is intense swelling and inflammation of the pancreas. It may provoke stomach pain around the navel and pain on the left side under the rib cage. Symptoms that go with rib pain in SOD include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight

Stabbing Pain on Left Side after Gallbladder Removal

Why do I feel pain 5 weeks after gallbladder removal? Post-surgical pain is a crucial concern for many gallbladder removal patients. Every surgical approach has some grade of pain. Still, the discomfort with gallbladder removal is minimal. 

Physicians may prescribe pain medicine following stabbing pain right side after gallbladder removal. Moreover, some patients present with shoulder pain after laparoscopic gallbladder removal surgery. 


This transient discomfort originates from gas stranded in your stomach during the operation. Even so, severe pain and cramping are unusual. If you have these signs, reach your doctor as soon as possible.

When to see a doctor?

Sometimes, it’s normal to have stabbing pain in stomach after gallbladder removal. Yet, if you notice any of the following, visit the nearby healthcare team right away:

  • aggravating pain that doesn’t get better with time or medication
  • new pain on the right side under the rib
  • worsening nausea or vomiting
  • yellowish discoloration of your skin, sclera, or mucosa
  • no bowel movement or gas release for more than 72 hours post-surgery
  • persistent looseness of bowel habit 


Question: Is it normal to have sharp pain after gallbladder surgery?

After your surgery, you will feel lethargic for a few days after you’re back home. Some pain is normal following surgical procedures. But some are not! During gallbladder removal, it’s potential for a surgeon to injure the surrounding organs. This may result in cramping and aching.

Question: Why do I have pain where my gallbladder was removed?

Pain after gallbladder removal may be due to various reasons. But sometimes, bile fluid leaks out into the abdomen. Thus, you have a swollen and aching tummy. Furthermore, some people develop an infection after gallbladder removal, which causes pain.

Question: What can mimic gallbladder pain after gallbladder removal?

Your doctor may presume you have SOD if you have attacks of pain after gallbladder removal. Otherwise, they may also regard SOD after healing from gastric bypass surgery. But you may also present with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and weight.

Question: What is phantom pain after gallbladder removal?

You may have pain in your upper abdomen that radiates into your right shoulder and under the ribs. Moreover, it can present as chest pain that feels like a heart attack. This pain is often comparable to gallbladder pain. But people still have this pain after the surgery! But this can be due to the rewiring of your nerves following the removal of an organ.


Stabbing pain after gallbladder removal is rare. Thus, removing the gallbladder is usually the best way to cure gallbladder diseases. Gallbladder removal is a simple procedure, but it’s possible to have side effects.

Knowing ways to recognize complications after surgery may create a better experience. After that, doctors suggest walking post-surgery. Remember, you should be as active as your body permits. Otherwise, your doctor will tell you what to foresee.

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