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Chenodal Side Effects

Generic Name: chenodeoxycholic acid

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of chenodeoxycholic acid. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Chenodal.

In Summary

Common side effects of Chenodal include: increased serum alanine aminotransferase. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to chenodeoxycholic acid: oral tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by chenodeoxycholic acid (the active ingredient contained in Chenodal). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking chenodeoxycholic acid:

Incidence not known:
  • Black, tarry stools
  • chest pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • fever
  • painful or difficult urination
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • swollen glands
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with chenodeoxycholic acid may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

More common:
  • Diarrhea
Less common:
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • acid or sour stomach
  • belching
  • bloated
  • cramps
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • full feeling
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pain in the chest below the breastbone
  • pain or discomfort in chest, upper stomach, or throat
  • passing gas
  • stomach discomfort or upset
  • weight loss

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to chenodeoxycholic acid: oral tablet


Hepatic side effects have included dose-related serum aminotransferase (mainly SGPT) elevations, usually not accompanied by
rises in alkaline phosphatase or bilirubin, occurring in 30% or more of patients treated with the recommended dose of chenodeoxycholic acid (the active ingredient contained in Chenodal) In most cases, these elevations were minor (1½ 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.

Morphologic studies of liver biopsies taken before and after 9 and 24 months of treatment with chenodeoxycholic acid 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.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects have included diarrhea in 30% to 40% of 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. Other less frequent, gastrointestinal side effects reported include urgency, cramps, heartburn, constipation, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, epigastric distress, dyspepsia, flatulence and nonspecific abdominal pain.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects have included decreases in white cell count but the drug was continued in all patients without incident.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects have included serum total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol increases of 10% or more during drug administration; no change has been seen in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) fraction; small decreases in serum triglyceride levels for females have been reported.[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Chenodal (chenodeoxycholic acid)." Manchester Pharmaceutical, Fort Collins, CO.

Not all side effects for Chenodal may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

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