About 1 in 7 people with gallstones will develop stones in the common bile duct. This is the small tube that carries bile from the gallbladder to the intestine. Risk factors include a history of gallstones. However, choledocholithiasis can occur in people who have had their gallbladder removed.
Usually, the stones pass from the gallbladder into the bile ducts. They may remain there without blocking the flow of bile or causing symptoms, or they may pass on into the small intestine without being noticed. However, if the gallstones cause a blockage in a bile duct, a person will have pain.
Serious complications (such as a blocked duct) rarely occur. So you and your doctor may decide to delay treatment to see whether symptoms go away on their own. This is especially true if your doctor is not sure that the symptoms were caused by gallstones. Sometimes surgery for gallstone problems is needed right away.