Acute cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is an organ that sits below your liver and helps your body
become very severe and in most cases requires immediate medical attention.
See your doctor as soon as possible if you think you have acute cholecystitis.
This condition is can become chronic if it persists for a
prolonged period of time or if you are having recurring symptoms from the
What Are the Causes and Risks Factors of Cholecystitis?
Gallstones are by far the most common cause of acute
cholecystitis. Bile can build up in the gallbladder if gallstones obstruct the
bile ducts. This leads to inflammation.
Acute cholecystitis can also be caused by a severe illness
or tumor. However, these causes are rare.
The condition is considered chronic when attacks of
cholecystitis are repeated or prolonged.
Women get gallstones more often than men. They also have a
higher risk of developing acute cholecystitis.
Risk increases with age in both men and women, although the
reason is unclear. The risk is also higher for people of Scandinavian, Native American,
and Hispanic descent.
Are the Symptoms of Acute Cholecystitis?
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 your upper abdomen. It may also spread to your right shoulder
Pain from acute cholecystitis can feel like sharp pain or
dull cramps. It’s often described as excruciating.
Other symptoms include:
- clay-colored stool
- yellowing of your skin and the whites of your
- pain, typically after a meal
- abdominal bloating
Is Acute Cholecystitis Diagnosed?
The symptoms of acute cholecystitis can resemble many other
illnesses. Your doctor will want to know about your medical history as well as
your symptoms. They’ll probably check your abdomen for swelling or tender areas.
They may order additional tests, such as the following:
ultrasounds use sound waves to create an image of your organs. This
is the most commonly ordered imaging test that’s used to diagnose cholecystitis.
scintigraphy is a procedure that creates an image of the upper
portion of your small intestine, liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts.
- Cholangiography uses
dye injected into your bile ducts to show the gallbladder and bile ducts on an
- CT scans are
computerized images used to create images of your internal organs.
Your doctor may need to run more tests if you’ve been
diagnosed with acute cholecystitis. These tests may include a liver function
test and a complete blood count test.
How Is Cholecystitis Treated?
Severe abdominal pain may need immediate treatment. You
should always see your doctor if you begin to have severe, unexplained
Your doctor may recommend hospitalization so that you can be
monitored. You may be asked to fast because your gallbladder is part of your
digestive system. You may get intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration.
Your doctor will most likely prescribe pain medications and antibiotics to
minimize your abdominal pain and fight infection.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder
if the cholecystitis keeps recurring. This is called a cholecystectomy, which
can be done laparoscopically or through open surgery.
You can still digest food normally without a gallbladder.
Bile that normally flowed to your gallbladder will be redirected into your
Is Cholecystitis Prevented?
You may be able to reduce your risk of developing acute or
chronic cholecystitis by losing weight and eating a healthier diet. It’s believed
that cholesterol plays a part in the formation of gallstones. You should avoid
foods that are high in fat and cholesterol.
Being overweight increases the amount of cholesterol in your
bile. This raises your chances of developing gallstones. If you choose to lose
weight to reduce the risk of gallstones, it’s best to do so gradually. Rapid
weight loss may upset the delicate bile chemistry in your body. This can increase
your chances of developing gallstones.
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your weight.
They’ll help you come up with an effective weight loss plan.