Gallstones in Children

A child with gallstones? Yes, it's entirely possible. If your child has a chronic health condition like sickle cell anemia, obesity, or some other underlying digestive health issue, he or she is at higher risk. A prompt, accurate diagnosis is essential for all of you. Our pediatric gastroenterologists are some of the best in Michigan. We'll confirm the cause, relieve your child's pain and ease your concerns.

Gallstones in children are often a type called "black pigment stones," which are made when bile becomes saturated with calcium bilirubinate. These are often associated with blood disorders. Another type that can occur in children is made of calcium carbonate.

When gallstones move and block bile ducts, they are painful. The most common symptom is intense, sudden pain in the upper right part of the belly. Treatment is usually at the hospital, and may include IV antibiotics and pain medicines, while keeping the stomach empty.

Treatments for Gallstones in Children

Children with gallstones are in a lot of pain, so you want expert treatment as soon as possible.

Welcome to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Here, you’ll meet some of the most experienced pediatric gastroenterologists in Michigan. Our treatment approach starts with medicine to help dissolve those gallstones. We also know that gallstone surgery is sometimes the more effective approach. Removing the gallbladder may be necessary. Children usually recover from this surgery with no adverse side effects. Our pediatric surgeons are especially skilled in minimally invasive high-tech procedures that mean quicker recovery time for children with gallbladder disease. We'll find and remove those painful gallstones so your kid can get back to a normal, active life. This is the right path and you’re in the right place.

Endoscopic Surgery
Surgeons use a thin scope-and-camera apparatus to find and remove small gallstones and other abnormalities in the gallbladder.

Gallbladder Surgery
Gallbladder removal is usually done using minimally invasive surgical techniques for smaller scars and faster recovery. Your child can live a full life without a gallbladder.

Hospitalization with IV Treatment
Hospitalization may be needed so that supplemental nutrition can be administered intravenously. We can also administer IV pain medicine and antibiotics to fight infection.

Oral Dissolution Therapy
Medicine made from bile acid is sometimes used to dissolve small gallstones.