Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder.
The gallbladder stores bile. Bile is a yellowish-green 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.
The inflammation of the gallbladder may cause the following symptoms: a feeling of abdominal bloating and excessive gasnausea and sometimes vomitingpain that is usually in the upper right or middle part of the abdomenradiation of the pain through to the back or into the shoulderworsening of the pain after a heavy or fatty meal
If complications occur, the individual may develop further symptoms: abnormally light colored stoolsblockage of the bowelsdark-colored urinefever, chills, or even shockitchingjaundice, or yellowing of the eyes and skinsevere, constant abdominal pain
Cholecystitis may occur when the gallbladder is inflamed by one of the following: gallstones, the most common cause an autoimmune disorder, in which the person's immune system attacks the gallbladder for no known reasonrapid weight losspregnancya malignant or benign tumorpoor blood circulation to the gallbladder, such as from a clot that blocks blood flowinfections or other diseases of the gallbladderserious or prolonged illness, such as recovery from a major operation or severe skin burns
Cholecystitis can usually not be prevented.
Diagnosis of cholecystitis starts with a medical history and physical exam. The healthcare provider may order tests, including: abdominal CT scanabdominal X-rayblood tests to determine causes or complicationsspecial X-ray tests, using contrast agentsultrasound
Complications of cholecystitis may include: blockage of the ducts that carry bile to the intestinesbowel obstructiongallbladder diseaseliver diseasepancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas
Cholecystitis is not contagious and poses no risk to others.
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.
As a fall-back option for those who cannot tolerate an operation, a special diet or medications are prescribed to help dissolve the gallstones. Medicines to reduce inflammation can be given as well.
Surgery may cause bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction to anesthesia. Some people may notice more frequent bowel movements for a short time after surgery.
Gallstones may recur after they are dissolved with medicines. Surgery is usually more successful.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.