Purpose: Patients who undergo bariatric surgery are at risk for developing cholesterol gallstones. We aimed to identify risk factors that are associated with symptomatic gallstone disease and gallstone formation after bariatric surgery. Materials and Methods: We included participants of the UPGRADE trial, a multicenter randomized placebo-controlled trial on the prevention of symptomatic gallstone disease with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) after bariatric surgery. The association between patient characteristics and symptomatic gallstone disease, and gallstone formation was evaluated using logistic regression analysis. Results: Of 959 patients, 78 (8%) developed symptomatic gallstone disease within 24 months. Risk factors were the presence of a pain syndrome (OR 2.07; 95% CI 1.03 to 4.17) and asymptomatic gallstones before surgery (OR 3.15; 95% CI 1.87 to 5.33). Advanced age (OR 0.95; 95% CI 0.93 to 0.97) was protective, and UDCA prophylaxis did not reach statistical significance (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.39 to 1.03). No risk factors were identified for gallstone formation, whereas advanced age (OR 0.98; 95% CI 0.96 to 1.00), statin use (OR 0.42; 95% CI 0.20 to 0.90), and UDCA prophylaxis (OR 0.47; 95% CI 0.30 to 0.73) all reduced the risk. Conclusion: Young patients with a preoperative pain syndrome and/or asymptomatic gallstones before bariatric surgery are at increased risk for symptomatic gallstone disease after surgery. Whether statins, either alone or in combination with UDCA prophylaxis, can further reduce the burden of gallstones after bariatric surgery should be investigated prospectively. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1270-1278
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Surgery
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Gallstone formation
  • Risk factors
  • Symptomatic gallstone disease

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