Gallstones in Children with Sickle Cell Disease

The gall bladder is a small gland between the liver and the stomach. It aids in the digestion of foods, especially those that may be spicy or greasy.  Due to sickling blood cells, gallstones may form in the gall bladder. 

Are gallstones harmful to the body?

Gallstones are usually not harmful, but may lead to serious health problems. Your child might have discomfort when gallstones settle in the bile duct or collect in the gallbladder.

What are the signs and symptoms of gallstones?

  • Sudden, sharp pain on the upper right side of the stomach
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (also called jaundice)
  • Dark urine (tea-colored or brown)

What do I do if my child has these symptoms?

If your child has any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

How are gallstones treated?

If your child is not having problems from the gallstones, his or her doctor may choose to simply monitor the condition. If your child is having frequent pain, his or her doctor may choose to treat the symptoms in some of these ways:

  • IV fluids to prevent dehydration (not enough fluid in the body)
  • Anti-nausea and vomiting medicine
  • Pain medicine
  • Antibiotics (if a fever develops)
  • Surgical removal of the gallbladder