The Correlation between Lyme and Gallbladder Issues:

I haven’t written for an embarrassingly lengthy period of time.  The main reason being, my recent gallbladder issue and surgery, has taken me much longer than I anticipated to recover from. And because I’ve discovered how common gallbladder issues are with Lyme I felt my experience with it deserved a post.

My pain started on a Saturday afternoon- it began dull and achey in my lower right abdomen, but because I am no stranger to mysterious pain with no known cause from having Lyme, I wasn’t very worried. By Sunday evening though, the pain became too sharp and intense to ignore. I went to the ER, where the doctors and nurses immediately suspected appendicitis. But the CAT scan showed no inflammation of the appendix and all it revealed was an ovarian cyst. They sent me home, instructing me to rest and take Motrin (which was a joke because Vicodin didn’t scratch the surface of this pain) and assured me the pain would subside in a few days, tops. Long story short, my pain did not subside it only became more and more excruciating with each day. I was in and out of the hospital the entire week until finally on Friday, they decided to remove my appendix because they figured the CAT scan was falsely negative, and from my symptoms and pain I had appendicitis. They were prepping me for surgery and minutes away from wheeling me into the OR when the anesthesiologist came into to talk to me about the procedure and asked me one last time where my pain was. I pointed to just under my ribcage and he looked at me in surprise, and said,

“Your appendix isn’t that high up- your gallbladder is.”

So they called off the surgeon and kept me for two more tests, an ultrasound and HIDA scan. I didn’t have any gallstones but the HIDA scan showed, Biliary Dyskinesia- which translates to a non-functioning gallbladder. Now that they knew which organ to operate on, I had my gallbladder out laparoscopically and spent one night in the hospital. As soon as I woke up from surgery, I was extremely relieved because the initial stabbing pain was gone and replaced with a lesser pain from the incisions.

The more I asked around and found many other’s with Lyme had similar issues, if not the same one, I became increasingly curious. A) Why are gallstones/diseased gallbladders so common in people with Lyme? Not believing for one second any of this was a coincidence and B) For those of you who still have a (healthy) gallbladder, what preventative measures can one take to prevent losing theirs?

During my research I discovered the following article that connects Rocephin to symptoms of gallbladder disease AND an article that gives detailed info on what Lyme alone can do to harm your gallbladder — so my question remains: Was my (and so many others with Lyme) diseased gallbladder caused by intravenous Rocephin treatment, not to mention the other never-ending list of antibiotics I’ve been on over the years? Or was the disease and eventual removal of my gallbladder caused by my Lyme itself?

An article from Drug Lib states:

There have been reports of sonographic abnormalities in the gallbladder of patients treated with Rocephin; some of these patients also had symptoms of gallbladder disease. These abnormalities appear on sonography as an echo without acoustical shadowing suggesting sludge or as an echo with acoustical shadowing which may be misinterpreted as gallstones. The chemical nature of the sonographically detected material has been determined to be predominantly a ceftriaxone-calcium salt. The condition appears to be transient and reversible upon discontinuation of Rocephin and institution of conservative management. Therefore, Rocephin should be discontinued in patients who develop signs and symptoms suggestive of gallbladder disease and/or the sonographic findings described above.

And an article from DoubleCheckMD exploring the possibility of Ceftriaxone- Associated Biliary Complications.

Finally the website, Antiseptic Dorogova talks about the link between not only rocephin and gallbladder inflammation but how Lyme Disease, can damage your gallbladder, and lists herbs that are possibly helpful in supporting your gallbladder against a Lyme infection.

While the question still remains partially unanswered to me, there is no doubt in my mind that Lyme played a role in my recent surgery and it’s possible this issue may have been prevented if I was fully aware of the dangers certain drugs posed.

Please become informed, and ask your LLMD and/or whomever you see to treat your Lyme how you can protect your gallbladder. Because it’s obviously not necessary, but it certainly is nice to have all your organs! 😉



About Lyme Chick

Lyme Disease advocate/warrior still learning about Lyme treatments/recovery and wishing to inform, support, and commiserate with others along the way.
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13 Responses to The Correlation between Lyme and Gallbladder Issues:

  1. Tracy Will says:

    Hi Maisie!
    I’m in the hospital recovering from gallbladder surgery as we speak! So surprised to find that you just had it too! Wow, great article! I’m on Day 5 of my hospitalization, because like you, I was not diagnosed well. I have been having problems for 8 months and the first surgeon I saw last October did not feel it needed to come out. Now I reached a crisis point where it became badly infected and I was in an emergency situation, so I ended up in the hospital very sick. I am finally going home today.

    So sorry you had to go through this pain, too. I am going to go check out the articles you linked to here. Glad to find some resources! I MISS YOU!


  2. deb jansen says:

    when i went on rocephin my llmd put me on a med to prevent gallstones from forming because that is a known side effect. on the other hand, i am one of the few lymies/fibro i know who hasn’t had their gall bladder removed for pain and it being deemed non functional and none of them have been on rocephin.

  3. Jayne says:

    I use Rocephin IV but my doctor is aware of it’s danger to messing with the gallbladder so he at the same time started me on oral pill Actigall to counteract and prevent issues with the gallbladder or at least hope to prevent, so far so good, but have found I am also lacking production of bile so was told to start taking supplement of ox bile found at health food stores. hope you heal quickly, there is so much this stupid chronic Lymes can do to a body, hate it, ugh!

  4. Sonya Nelson says:

    I was on Actigall (Ursodiol) 300mg twice daily and I still lost my gallbladder. I too know people that have Lyme and have never been on rocephin and lost their gallbladder. So common, isn’t it?

    Actually Maisie, we had ours out at the same time, didn’t we? I think we were both recovering at the same time and you were having an awful time. I bounced right back. Or so it seemed. So since early March when we had surgery, I was fine up until about a month ago and now I am having GI issues. Wondering if it’s the gallbladder…

    I was wondering how you are doing now…

  5. Josephine says:

    I started having pain about 6 years ago in my right upper and middle upper thoracic region of my back. Thought maybe I hurt myself at the gym. Went to 3 different chiropractors, had x-rays and MRI. All said I was fine. After speaking w/several people, I figured out it’s my gallbladder. The pain originally started probably about 4 months after I had to terminate a molar pregnancy (and was given some intravenous antibiotic).

    I went to check out my gallbladder. Ultrasound said I didn’t have gallstones. I insisted on a HIDA scan, which of course said it was malfunctioning gallbladder. They can take it out, but no guarantee my pain would stop. I opted to change my diet and keep the gallbladder. I managed to successfully decrease my gallbladder pain by being careful about what I ate as something as benign as arugula could flare it up. But I progressively developed joint pain, severe migraine headaches, stiff neck, buzzing in my ears, hormonal issues (now 50 yo). I started eliminating certain foods, including gluten.

    I’ve been suffering on and off w/all this pain for the past 6 years. All this is happening and I have no diagnosis officially of Lyme b/c of course the tests are negative and/or Igenex WB indeterminate. I am not on antibiotics. Only recently have I put the pieces together and went to a Lyme Naturopath. I’ve been taking a cocktail of herbal tinctures on and off for the past 6 months.

    But just the other day I “treated” myself to a gluten free muffin w/2 scrambled eggs and onions for lunch. The pain in my back started shortly after I ate and increased for the next 12 hours. I thought I hurt my muscles. I sprayed some “Stop Pain.” No relief. Hot shower. Nothing. Medicated patches didn’t work.

    At midnight it felt like someone punched me in my pain and my upper stomach. (pain level 8-9) I went to E.R. b/c I thought maybe I was having an aortic aneurism. They did CT scan, x-rays, ultrasound (gallbladder still no stones detected) and 5 viles of blood for tests, liver enzymes and everything checked out fine. They offered pain meds, which I declined b/c I prefer to know what’s wrong w/me, not mask the pain.

    Released at 5 a.m. w/no diagnosis. The pain gradually subsiding. Later go on line to discover eggs and onions are gallbladder pain triggers and then I stumble upon your site. I read somewhere that the bacteria likes to hide in the gallbladder.

  6. Eva Smith says:

    There’s a pill to prevent gallbladder damage????? Are you kidding me? After 3 months of IV Rocephin (for Lyme), and many months, maybe years, later, I collapsed on the casino floor at the Ritz Carlton in San Juan, PR. I had NO IDEA the damage the IV Rocephin could do. However, after the removal of my gallbladder, I did decide giving up an organ is MUCH better than living in the pain-ridden world, I had been living in. I am annoyed that my over-rated, overly expensive, non-insurance taking, top 10 Neurologist, didn’t prescribe the pill. I also had gamma globulin infusions for a few months, as well.
    Lyme Disease controlled my life for WAY too long. It got my gallbladder, but it didn’t get my heart. (or something)
    Thanks for the post.
    Wish there was a class action lawsuit for this. (Lyme did get my money, too!)
    How many of us are out there…I am hoping the UHC class action suit comes to fruition soon enough. My parent’s lost their house paying for my treatment. Ridiculous!

  7. Meghan says:

    I’ve had Lyme disease for 4 years now (I was misdiagnosed for 2 of the 4 years) and I just got my third picc line yesterday! Back in February of this year I was on Rocephin and it working great on reducing pain and my symptoms even started to slowly fade, but then I started having the most painful stabbing pain on my right side. I knew it couldn’t have been my appendix because I got that out in February of 2008. Before I began the Rocephin, my doctor did warn me about gallstones, especially because they’re hereditary in my family. I had an ultrasound and went to see my surgeon who schedualed my surgery a few days later. I had to stop Rocephin because I was told gallstones could still form in my bile duct which would cause me to have to have surgery again. I tried many other antibiotics, including one other IV med, but none of them worked as much as the Rocephin did. After seeing my doctor a week ago he said he wanted me back on Rocephin. I just started it a day ago and so far, so good! But, I do need to have ultrasounds once a month/every other month just to make sure no gallstones are forming. Thank you for this article because I will now pass on the news that gall bladder disease/gallstones can be related to having Lyme!

  8. kelly ann voyce says:

    Ah yes…frequent hospital trips to the ER, before and after diagnosis of Central Nervous System Lyme Disease for various symptoms, mostly associated with different pain issues, swelling of extremeties to where I can barely walk or make a fist. Before this diagnosis I have had several surgeries, from 4 C-Sections, appendectomy, ruptured ovarian cysts, adhesion removals to name a few. 17 Years ago diagnosed w/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, so when I began with symptoms and knew I was fighting something different. Several tests, cat scans, ultra sounds, blood, blood tests….no Lyme, no Arthritis, so went in hospital for spinal fluid test (Dr looking for MS) positive for Lyme. Wished it was MS, at least peeps be perceptive andhave a better understanding. With Lyme, its always a hit or miss…..sure wished the freaken Drs, Andre health ins Cos, fed govt get things figured out. Is there any help, real help,cause I cant find any. As result ofbeing sick, lost my job, hlth insurance, my car, recently lost my home. I am homeless now, no treatment but hospitals, so med bills out the whazoo. Begging to no avail, no assistance still, denied several disability claims. No self dignity, no self worth….down past rock bottom to the core. I have nothing left to give but my life….AND WITH THIS BEING SAID, THE LOSS OF MY LIFE, WOULD NOT MEAN A THING, TO ANYONE, BUT MY FAMILY. BECAUSE THEN I WOULD: JUST BE A STATISTIC AND WOULDNT COST 1RED CENT TO THE GOVT, HLTH INSURANCE CO……


    • Jamie says:

      How are you feeling now? Are you much better? Keep fighting.

      • kelly ann voyce says:

        Feeling the same! However, things have gotten better….such as no longer homeless…but still dealing with trying to obtain health insurance, doctors or facilities willing to treat me. Still not able to receive any treatment for the Lyme ‘s or RSD and other health issues, bug still fighting. Thanks for asking…very kind of you

  9. Tim says:

    Wow! I have been on IV Rocephin for CNS Lyme for 14 weeks now (waited 20 years to find right diagnosis). On week 13, I got jabbing pains at night and felt like heart problems and after trip to lyme MD, cardiologist, and gastro. Luckily pain has subsied for now. I just had an endo and ultrasound, and it appears my gallbladder and pyloric schincter is in trouble. I am going to get final results this week and head back to lyme MD to talk about what to do to prevent the problem without giving up on Rocephin. Thanks for the note about Actigall.

  10. Wendy C says:

    I have never been on Rocephin only doxycycline and amoxicillin. Currently, amox. 2 days ago, I went to the ER in terrible gallbladder pain. I’m eating well on the Lyme diet, so I don’t get it.

    They didn’t remove it, but found “sludge” in there. I think it’s a matter of time before I go back there to get it out. It must just be Lyme because I’ve never been on Rocephin and never had problems before.

  11. Allie says:

    I lost my gall bladder to the Lyme fight

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