Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder.
What is going on in the body?
The gallbladder stores bile. Bile is a liquid produced in the liver that aids in digestion. When a person eats, bile flows through a series of ducts into the intestines. It helps to break up food so that it can be used by the body. When bile is supersaturated with cholesterol or bilirubin, it may form the crystals known as gallstones. These stones may block the flow of bile within the gallbladder, causing cholecystitis. Cholecystitis can also occur when the gallbladder is irritated by other diseases and conditions.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Cholecystitis may occur when the gallbladder is inflamed by one of the following:
Symptoms & Signs
What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?
If gallstones become symptomatic, the person has cholecystitis. He or she may have the following symptoms:
If complications occur, the individual may develop further symptoms:
Diagnosis & Tests
How is the condition diagnosed?
Diagnosis of cholecystitis starts with a medical history and physical exam. The healthcare provider may order tests, including:
Prevention & Expectations
What can be done to prevent the condition?
Cholecystitis can usually not be prevented.
What are the long-term effects of the condition?
Complications of cholecystitis may include:
What are the risks to others?
Cholecystitis is not contagious and poses no risk to others.
Treatment & Monitoring
What are the treatments for the condition?
Removal of the gallbladder with surgery is the preferred treatment for cholecystitis. Surgery may be needed right away or delayed for several weeks in some cases. Since the early 1990s, this surgery has usually been done with laparoscopy. This procedure is a type of less invasive surgery that leaves smaller scars than regular surgery. Laparoscopy involves inserting a small viewing tube through the skin of the abdomen into the abdominal cavity. The viewing tube is equipped with tiny surgical tools that can be used to remove the gallbladder.
In severe cases, the procedure may need to be done with regular surgery, which leaves a larger scar. Treating gallstones without surgery is done rarely for those who cannot tolerate an operation. This may involve dissolving diets, medicines to reduce inflammation, and special sound waves to break up gallstones.
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Some people may notice more frequent bowel movements for a short time after surgery.
What happens after treatment for the condition?
Gallstones may recur after they are dissolved with medicines or destroyed with ultrasound. Surgery is usually more successful.
How is the condition monitored?
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.
Article type: xmedgeneral