What is cholecystitis?
Cholecystitis is inflammation of the
gallbladder, a small organ near the liver that plays a
part in digesting food. Normally, fluid called bile passes out of the
gallbladder on its way to the small intestine. If the flow of bile is blocked,
it builds up inside the gallbladder, causing swelling, pain, and possible
What causes cholecystitis?
gallstone stuck in the cystic duct , a tube that carries bile from the gallbladder,
is most often the cause of sudden (acute) cholecystitis. The
gallstone blocks fluid from passing out of the
gallbladder. This results in an irritated and swollen gallbladder. Infection or
trauma, such as an injury from a car accident, can also cause cholecystitis.
cholecystitis, though rare, is most often seen in critically ill people in
hospital intensive care units. In these cases, there are no gallstones.
Complications from another severe illness, such as HIV or diabetes, cause the
Long-term (chronic) cholecystitis is another form of
cholecystitis. It occurs when the gallbladder remains swollen over time,
causing the walls of the gallbladder to become thick and hard.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptom of
cholecystitis is pain in your
upper right abdomen that can sometimes move around to your back or right
shoulder blade. Other symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Tenderness in
the right abdomen.
- Pain that gets worse during a
- Pain for more than 6 hours, particularly after
Older people may not have fever or pain. Their only
symptom may be a tender area in the abdomen.
How is cholecystitis diagnosed?
cholecystitis starts when you describe your symptoms
to your doctor. Next is a physical exam. Your doctor will carefully feel your
right upper abdomen to look for tenderness. You may have blood drawn and an
ultrasound, a test that uses sound waves to create a
picture of your gallbladder. Ultrasound may show gallstones, thickening of
the gallbladder wall, extra fluid, and other signs of cholecystitis. This test
also allows doctors to check the size and shape of your gallbladder.
You could also have a gallbladder scan, a
nuclear scanning test that checks how well your
gallbladder is working. It can also help find blockage in the tubes (bile
ducts) that lead from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine