Last reviewed on RxList: 10/11/2018
Chenodal Side Effects Center

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Last reviewed on RxList 10/11/2018

Chenodal (chenodeoxycholic acid) is a naturally occurring human bile acid indicated for patients with radiolucent stones in well-opacifying gallbladders, in whom selective surgery would be undertaken except for the presence of increased surgical risk due to systemic disease or age. Common side effects of Chenodal include:

The recommended dose range for Chenodiol is 13 to 16 mg/kg/day in two divided doses, morning and night, starting with 250 mg twice daily the first two weeks and increasing by 250 mg/day each week thereafter until the recommended or maximum tolerated dose is reached. Chenodal may interact with bile acid sequestering agents, aluminum-based antacids, estrogen, oral contraceptives, and coumarin. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Chenodal is not recommended for use during pregnancy; it may harm a fetus. It is unknown if Chenodal passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Chenodal (chenodeoxycholic acid) Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


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Dose-related serum aminotransferase (mainly SGPT) elevations, usually not accompanied by rises in alkaline phosphatase or bilirubin, occurred in 30% or more of patients treated with the recommended dose of Chenodiol. In most cases, these elevations were minor (1 ½ to 3 times the upper limit of laboratory normal) and transient, returning to within the normal range within six months despite continued administration of the drug. In 2% to 3% of patients, SGPT levels rose to over three times the upper limit of laboratory normal, recurred on rechallenge with the drug, and required discontinuation of chenodiol treatment. Enzyme levels have returned to normal following withdrawal of chenodiol (see WARNINGS).

Morphologic studies of liver biopsies taken before and after 9 and 24 months of treatment with chenodiol have shown that 63% of the patients prior to chenodiol treatment had evidence of intrahepatic cholestasis. Almost all pretreatment patients had electron microscopic abnormalities. By the ninth month of treatment, reexamination of two-thirds of the patients showed an 89% incidence of the signs of intrahepatic cholestasis. Two of 89 patients at the ninth month had lithocholate-like lesions in the canalicular membrane, although there were not clinical enzyme abnormalities in the face of continued treatment and no change in Type 2 light microscopic parameters.

Increased Cholecystectomy Rate

NCGS patients with a history of biliary pain prior to treatment had higher cholecystectomy rates during the study if assigned to low dosage chenodiol (375 mg/day) than if assigned to either placebo or high dosage chenodiol (750 mg/day). The association with low dosage chenodiol though not clearly a causal one, suggests that patients unable to take higher doses of chenodiol may be at greater risk of cholecystectomy.


Dose-related diarrhea has been encountered in 30% to 40% of chenodiol-treated patients and may occur at any time during treatment, but is most commonly encountered when treatment is initiated. Usually, the diarrhea is mild, translucent, well-tolerated and does not interfere with therapy. Dose reduction has been required in 10% to 15% of patients, and in a controlled trial about half of these required a permanent reduction in dose. Anti-diarrhea agents have proven useful in some patients.

Discontinuation of chenodiol because of failure to control diarrhea is to be expected in approximately 3% of patients treated. Steady epigastric pain with nausea typical of lithiasis (biliary colic) usually is easily distinguishable from the crampy abdominal pain of drug-induced diarrhea.

Other less frequent, gastrointestinal side effects reported include urgency, cramps, heartburn, constipation, nausea, and vomiting, anorexic, epigastric distress, dyspepsis, flatulence and nonspecific abdominal pain.

Serum Lipids

Serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol may rise 10% or more during administration of chenodiol: no change has been seen in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) fraction; small decreases in serum triglyceride levels for females have been reported.


Decreases in white cell count, never below 3000, have been noted in a few patients treated with chenodiol; the drug was continued in all patients without incident.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Chenodal (Chenodiol Tablets)


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© Chenodal Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Chenodal Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

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