What Is Acute Cholecystitis?
is an inflammation of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a green pear-shaped
hollow organ located beneath your liver. Bile — a dark green fluid that helps
your body digest and absorb food — is stored there.
After you eat,
bile is released from your gallbladder into your cystic duct. From there, it
makes its way down the common bile duct to enter your small intestine
(specifically, the duodenum). Sometimes this process is inhibited, leading to a
buildup of bile inside your gallbladder. As a result, your gallbladder becomes
larger and inflamed.
Symptoms of Acute Cholecystitis
If you have
acute cholecystitis, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
Pain is one of
the most distinctive features of acute cholecystitis. You will usually feel it
in the upper right area of your abdomen. Pain may also occur between your
shoulder blades or radiate from the abdominal area to your right shoulder. The
onset of the pain is often sudden and may be very intense. More often than not,
it is a constant pain lasting for a few minutes or hours. It may become worse
after you eat a meal.
Causes of Acute Cholecystitis
In about 90 percent of cases, acute cholecystitis is caused by gallstones
blocking your cystic duct. In other cases, it may be caused by tumors or other
problems with your bile duct, such as inflammation, strictures, cysts, trauma,
surgery, parasites, or infection. In most cases, however, the infection is a
result of cholecystitis, not the cause.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Acute
factors for acute cholecystitis include:
ethnicities (e.g., Native American, Mexican-American)
tests may be helpful in diagnosing acute cholecystitis:
will provide your doctor with a complete blood count (CBC) and liver enzymes
levels help them assess your liver function. The results can help them learn if
your bile flow is blocked.
This test is
usually the first step to reaching an acute cholecystitis diagnosis.
It employs sound waves to create an image of your gallbladder and bile ducts.
often performed to rule out other conditions.
Oral Cholecystogram (OCG)
In this test,
you will be asked to swallow pills containing a dye before you are X-rayed. The
dye will help your doctor detect any problems with your gallbladder, including
Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid
This scan can
help your doctor track and identify an obstruction in your bile flow. They will
inject a solution into your body and use a special camera to view it.
Computed Tomography (CT)
CT scans can
be used to create cross-sectional images of your abdomen. These images allow
your doctor to detect gallstones.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI scans use
a magnetic field and radio waves to create an image of your abdomen.
The first step
of treatment is to control inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe:
to prevent or treat infection
to temporarily control your pain
to relieve the gallbladder from stress
After your condition
has been stabilized, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your
gallbladder. This is the only guaranteed way to prevent cholecystitis from happening
again. This procedure is known as a cholecystectomy. A cholecystectomy may be
performed laparoscopically or through open surgery.
surgery is performed by making small incisions in your abdomen. A small camera
and some surgical instruments are then inserted through the incision. The
camera displays the inside of your abdomen on a monitor. Your doctor can then
guide the instruments to remove the gallbladder. Laparoscopic surgery is
preferred over classic open surgery because and it can be done with small
incisions. The small incision results in faster recovery times. Patients prefer
it as well because it doesn’t leave an unpleasant scar.
In the Long Term
You don’t need
your gallbladder for your body to function properly. If your gallbladder is
removed, you can still lead a normal life.
of cholecystitis cases are caused by gallstones. You may reduce your chances of
developing gallstones by:
weight slowly if you are overweight or obese
a healthy diet that is rich in fiber and low in fat
more fruits and vegetables