Stone formation in humans may look like a very strange happening. Stones are good when they are out and not in the human body. Yet kidney stones and gallstones form in many people of different age groups around the world. Though the two types of stones have similar symptoms, they affect different body organs, having different composition and causes.

Here is a detailed difference between a gallbladder and a kidney stone.

Both kidney stones and gallbladder stones are caused due to the build-up of certain chemicals and materials in their respective organs of formation. Usually, the pain and other symptoms show up when this build-up blocks the functions of the normal organs.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are formed in the kidney when the dissolved minerals are in excess and start building up. They are also caused due to insufficient water or fluid intake, medical history and other dietary factors. Kidney stones are usually hard collections of minerals and salt, often made up of uric acid and calcium. When these kidney stones are formed, they can travel down to other parts of the urinary tract causing discomfort and infections.

A kidney stone is usually formed of minerals, oxalate, calcium, and uric acid. Kidney stones can be as small as a sand grain and can pass unnoticed through the urinary tract, but some stones are larger and cause severe pain in the process of naturally leaving the body. If not treated in time, these kidney stones can lead to urinary infections, problems, and kidney damage.

Gallbladder stone

The main role of your gallbladder is to store the bile juice, which is produced by the liver that helps in the digestion process. Bile juice consists of water, cholesterol, proteins, fats proteins, bile salts, and bilirubin. When this bile has an excess amount of cholesterol or bilirubin, gallbladder stones are formed. A high cholesterol diet and obesity can also contribute to the formation of these gallbladder stones.

These stones are usually a hard lump that is formed in the bile duct or gallbladder. Gallbladder stones are hard, a pebble-like structure that can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a ball.

Usually, the gallbladder stones are asymptomatic and do not cause any distress or discomfort. Most of the time, people do not even know if they have one. However, they are noticed when they cause a gallbladder attack. This attack is caused when this gallbladder stone blocks a duct, causing an infection and hampers the body’s natural flow.

Just like kidney stones, gallbladder stones can also be removed without removing the gallbladder. However, the gallbladder is suggested to be removed when there are multiple stones.

Size of gallbladder stone vs kidney stone

The gallbladder stones vary in shapes and size. They start with being small but can grow to be as big as a golf ball. In the gallbladder, there can be one single stone or various small ones. Just the same way, kidney stones also vary in shape and size. When it grows bigger than 3mm, they start causing problems. A vast majority of small kidney stones pass spontaneously through urination. For larger kidney stones, only about half pass spontaneously.

Symptoms of Gallbladder stones and Kidney Stones

Though kidney stones and gallbladder stones affect different organs, their symptoms are very much similar.

  • Nauseous
  • Sweaty
  • Restless
  • Feverish
  • Chilled
  • Pain under the ribs
  • Pain between your shoulder blades

Differences in both symptoms

If you have a gallbladder stone, it can lead to jaundice or yellowed skin and whites of the eyes, and the pain of kidney stone pain comes in waves instead of being regular and constant. Kidney stones can also lead to blood while urinating.

Stone composition

Gallstones are made of extra calcium, cholesterol, bilirubin, and calcium carbonate. At the same time, kidney stones are composed of minerals and acid salts.

How are the two diagnosed

Gallbladder stones can be diagnosed by cholangiography, CT scan, blood cholesterol test, cholescintigraphy, and jaundice test. On the other hand, kidney stones can be diagnosed by doing a CT scan, intravenous pyelogram and ultrasound.


Gallbladder stones are treated by ursodeoxycholic acid, cholecystectomy, ERCP, and lithotripsy. On the other hand, kidney stones are treated by taking pain control medications, inducing polyurea, lithotripsy, and a kidney stone removal surgery.


Gallbladder stones can be prevented by having control over your eating habits, weight, and exercising regularly. In contrast, kidney stones can be prevented by having enough water and avoiding food with high oxalate content.

Can kidney stone and gallbladder stone be prevented?

Both these stones happen due to various reasons. In the majority of people, kidney stones can be prevented, but for gallbladder stones, there is no sure guarantee of prevention; however, if the precautions are taken seriously, you can be at a lower risk.

To avoid having kidney stones, make sure to consume enough water, avoid foods with high oxalate content, gallbladder stones, maintain a healthy diet, and avoid fatty foods or foods high in cholesterol.

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