Difference between Kidney stones and Gall-bladder stones

Difference between Kidney stones and Gall-bladder stones
January 22 04:05 2021 by admin Print This Article

The kidney is an important organ in the human body. It filters waste and toxic matter from the blood and converts that into urine.

The Gall-bladder is an organ that is closely related to the liver’s functioning. It acts as a reservoir and stores the bile secreted by the liver which is then sent to the small intestine to help digestion of the food.

Both the kidney and gall-bladder are vulnerable to developing stones from the food and beverages we consume. The stone can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a golf ball in both the cases. Further, there are some symptoms which are common to both conditions such as nausea, vomiting, restlessness, fever, chills, feeling sweaty, pain under the ribs and pain between shoulder blades. But otherwise, there are various differences between them.

Gallstones vs. Kidney Stones


Kidney stones form in the urinary tract. They travel through the ureters and block the flow of urine.

Gallstones form in the gall-bladder and block the flow of bile into the digestive-tract.


Kidney stones are made of crystals of calcium, phosphate, oxalate and uric acid.

Gall stones are made up of cholesterol, bile salts and bilirubin.

Contributing foods

Kidney stones – Some foods such as beetroot, tea, tomato, rhubarb, almost all nuts, spinach and chocolate are rich in sodium, calcium, phosphates or oxalates. Excessive consumption of these, combined with drinking less water can lead to kidney stones over time.

Gallstones – A diet rich in cholesterol and unhealthy fats can lead to gall stones. This includes fried snacks, refined and processed foods; high-fat red meat and whole-milk dairy products such as butter, cream and cheese.

Risk groups

Kidney stones – Middle-aged men, across races, are more at risk, especially if they have a family history of kidney stones, take certain medication and have any health condition that causes low urine output.

Gallstones – Hispanic and native American-Indian women are more at risk, especially if they suffer from obesity, diabetes and have shown rapid weight loss.

Location of Pain

With kidney stones, sharp or intense pain is felt in the sides and lower half of the back side as well as a radiating pain in the lower abdomen or groin area.

With gall-stones, sharp or intense pain is felt in the upper right and centre of the abdomen.

Unique symptoms

Pain due to kidney stones comes in waves, instead of being present all the time. Further, there can be hematuria or blood in the urine.

Gallstones can cause jaundice which manifests as yellowish skin and whites of the eyes.

Complications arising if condition is left untreated

Kidney stones

  • Abscess (pus formation along with swelling and inflammation) in the kidney(s)
  • Serious infections of the kidney that impair its normal functioning
  • Formation of urinary fistula which is an unwanted opening between the urinary tract and another organ such as the bowel or vagina
  • Scarring or narrowing-down (stenosis) of the ureters
  • Perforation or formation of holes in the ureters
  • Extravasation: the joint between the kidney and ureters can develop a hole due to blockage by a kidney stone and cause urine to leak
  • Severe loss of kidney function due to a long-standing obstruction from a kidney stone. This can cause pain, fever, sepsis and death too.


  • Empyema or pus in the gallbladder
  • Gangrene: if the gall-stone gets stuck in the opening of the gall-bladder, one of the consequences is reduced blood flow to soft tissue which results in their death or decay
  • It can migrate into the bile ducts and cause injury to bile ducts that drain the liver
  • Various infections within the gallbladder, which can lead to further complications
  • If bile builds up within the gallbladder, the bile can get infected (cholecystitis)
  • The gall stone can grow big enough to cause a tear in the gallbladder or the gallbladder to burst


Kidney stones – Nearly 50% of men who have had a kidney stone before are at risk of recurrence.

Gallstones – The risk of gall stones recurring is high which is why the doctor may advise removing the gall-bladder after a few occurrences. Removing the gall bladder is not an issue as one can live without the gall-bladder.


If the kidney stone is small in size, it’s generally flushed out through the urine by drinking a lot of water. Pain-killers are given to reduce pain. In case the stone has grown quite large in size, a minimally-invasive surgical procedure called lithotripsy is done. In this, shock waves are given to the spot where the stone is located, upon which it breaks down into tiny fragments that get flushed out through the urine eventually.

Gall stones are generally dissolved through oral medication. However, if they keep recurring or if the pain or symptoms are intense, then the gastroenterologist may recommend removing the gall-bladder altogether. This is done through a minimally-invasive procedure called as laparoscopic cholecystectomy. After this, the bile juices flow directly from the liver into the small intestine without having to go through a reservoir called gall bladder.


Kidney stones can be prevented by drinking plenty of water and consuming less of foods that are rich in oxalates. A nephrologist, or dietician, or nutritionist, will advise you on foods to consume and foods to avoid if you are at risk of kidney stones.

Gall-bladder stones can be prevented by having a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats. Foods that are rich in unhealthy fats and cholesterol must be minimized.


If you or any of your dear ones are diagnosed with either kidney or gall-bladder stones, do not panic. Consult a reputed hospital. Such hospitals have the best nephrologists/ urologists and gastroenterology physicians and surgeons on their rolls. These specialists will diagnose your condition precisely and design a course of treatment for quick recovery and rehabilitation.


Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.

Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777 • Bengaluru – 080 6801 6801

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  1. Prabha
    June 10, 05:25 #1 Prabha

    Got to know the similarities and differences between kidney stones and gall bladder stones. Thanks for the article!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Vishali
    June 30, 06:55 #2 Vishali

    Great read! Despite having some knowledge about kidney stones, this article helped me learn a lot more about it and also about gall bladder stones.

    Reply to this comment

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