Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen, beneath the liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid that’s released into the small intestine.
Gallstones are by far the most common cause of acute cholecystitis. Bile can build up in the gallbladder if gallstones obstruct the bile. This leads to inflammation.
It can also be caused by a severe illness or a tumor. However, these causes are rare.
The condition is considered chronic when attacks of cholecystitis are repeated or prolonged.
The most common sign that you have acute cholecystitis is abdominal pain that lasts for several hours. This pain is usually in the middle or right side of the upper abdomen. It may also spread to the right shoulder or back.
Pain from acute cholecystitis can feel like sharp pain or dull cramps. It’s often described as excruciating.
Other symptoms include;
- Tenderness over the abdomen when it’s touched
Cholecystitis signs and symptoms often occur after a meal, particularly a larger or fatty one.
Tests and procedure used to diagnose cholecystitis include;
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests that shows the gallbladder
- A scan that shows the movement of bile through the body
Treatment for cholecystitis usually involves a hospital to stay in control of the inflammation in the gallbladder. Sometimes, surgery is needed.
Treatment may include;
- Fluids through a vein in the arm
- Antibiotics to fight infection
- Pain medications
- Procedure to remove stones
Gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy) is eventually needed to remove the gallbladder, since gallbladder inflammation often returns. It is usually a minimally invasive procedure, involving a few tiny incisions in the abdomen.
If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture.
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