Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. It usually happens when a gallstone blocks the cystic duct. Gallstones are humble stones, normally made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder. The cystic duct is the main open of the gallbladder. Gallstones are very common, affecting about 1 in 10 adults in the UK. They do not normally cause symptoms, but can occasionally cause episodes of trouble ( biliary colic ) or acute cholecystitis.

Acute cholecystitis is potentially serious because of the hazard of complications. It normally needs to be treated in hospital with pillow, intravenous fluids and antibiotics .

Symptoms of cholecystitis

The independent symptom of acute cholecystitis is a sudden, sharp annoyance in the amphetamine right-hand english of your pot ( abdomen ). This pain spreads towards your right shoulder. The involve region of the pot is normally very tender, and breathing deeply can make the pain bad. Unlike other types of abdominal pain, the pain of acute cholecystitis is normally haunting and does not go away within a few hours. Some people may have extra symptoms, such as :

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • sweating
  • loss of appetite
  • yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • a bulge in the tummy

When to seek medical advice

See a GP a soon as possible if you develop sudden and hard abdominal pain, particularly if it lasts longer than a few hours or is accompanied by other symptoms, such as jaundice and a high temperature. If you ‘re unable to contact a GP immediately, earphone your local out-of-hours service or call NHS 111 for advice. It ‘s authoritative for acute cholecystitis to be diagnosed arsenic soon as possible, as there ‘s a gamble serious complications could develop if it ‘s not treated promptly .

What causes acute cholecystitis?

The causes of acute cholecystitis can be grouped into 2 main categories : calculous cholecystitis and acalculous cholecystitis .

Calculous cholecystitis

calculous cholecystitis is the most common, and normally less serious, character of acute cholecystitis. It accounts for around 95 % of all cases. calculous cholecystitis develops when the independent open to the gallbladder, the cystic duct, gets blocked by a gallstone or a message known as biliary sludge. Biliary sludge is a mixture of bile, a liquid produced by the liver that helps digest fats, and small cholesterol and salt crystals. The obstruction in the cystic duct causes bile to build up in the gallbladder, increasing the pressure inside it and causing it to become inflamed. In about 1 in every 5 cases, the kindle gallbladder besides become infected by bacteria .

Acalculous cholecystitis

Acalculous cholecystitis is a less park, but normally more serious, type of acute cholecystitis. It normally develops as a complication of a serious illness, infection or wound that damages the gallbladder. Acalculous cholecystitis can be caused by accidental damage to the gallbladder during major surgery, serious injuries or burns, sepsis, severe malnutrition or HIV/AIDS .

Diagnosing acute cholecystitis

If you have severe stomach pain, a GP will probably carry out a childlike test called Murphy ‘s sign. You’ll be asked to breathe in profoundly with the GP ‘s handwriting pressed on your stomach, fair below your rib cage. Your gallbladder will move downwards as you breathe in. If you have cholecystitis, you ‘ll experience sudden trouble as your gallbladder reaches your repair ‘s hand. If your symptoms suggest you have acute cholecystitis, your GP will refer you to hospital immediately for far tests and discussion. Tests you may have in hospital include :

  • blood tests – to check for signs of inflammation in your body
  • an ultrasound scan of your tummy – to check for gallstones or other signs of a problem with your gallbladder

other scans, such as an roentgenogram, CT scan or MRI scan, may besides be carried out to examine your gallbladder in more contingent if there ‘s any uncertainty about your diagnosis .

Treating acute cholecystitis

If you ‘re diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, you ‘ll probably need to be admitted to hospital for treatment .

Initial treatment

initial treatment will normally involve :

  • not eating or drinking (fasting) to take the strain off your gallbladder
  • receiving fluids through a drip directly into a vein (intravenously) to prevent dehydration
  • taking medicine to relieve your pain

You ‘ll besides be given antibiotics if it ‘s thought you have an infection.

These often need to be continued for up to a week, during which time you may need to stay in hospital, or you may be able to go home. After initial treatment, any gallstones that may have caused acute cholecystitis normally fall back into the gallbladder and the inflammation will much settle down .


Removing your gallbladder may be recommended at some point after initial treatment to prevent acute accent cholecystitis coming back and reduce your hazard of developing potentially serious complications. This type of operation is known as a cholecystectomy. Although uncommon, an alternative routine called a transdermal cholecystostomy may be carried out if you ‘re excessively ailing to have surgery. This is where a needle is inserted through your stomach to drain away the fluid that ‘s built up in the gallbladder. If you ‘re fit enough to have surgery, your doctors will decide when the best time to remove your gallbladder is. In some cases you may need to have operating room immediately or in the adjacent day or 2, or it may be necessary to wait a few weeks until the ignition has settled down. operating room can be carried out in 3 ways :

  • laparoscopic cholecystectomy – a type of keyhole surgery where the gallbladder is removed using special surgical instruments inserted through a number of small cuts in your abdomen
  • single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy – where the gallbladder is removed through a single cut, which is usually made near the bellybutton
  • open cholecystectomy – where the gallbladder is removed through a single larger cut in the tummy

Although some people who have had their gallbladder removed have reported symptoms of bloat and diarrhea after eating certain foods, it ‘s possible to lead a absolutely normal life without a gallbladder. The organ can be useful, but it ‘s not essential as your liver will calm produce bile to digest food. Find out more about recovering from gallbladder removal

Possible complications

Without allow treatment, acute cholecystitis can sometimes lead to potentially dangerous complications. The independent complications of acute cholecystitis are :

  • the death of gallbladder tissue (gangrenous cholecystitis) – which can cause a serious infection that could spread throughout the body
  • the gallbladder splitting open (perforated gallbladder) – which can spread the infection within your tummy (peritonitis) or lead to a build-up of pus (abscess)

hand brake operating room to remove the gallbladder is needed to treat these complications in about 1 in every 5 cases of acute cholecystitis .

Preventing acute cholecystitis

It ‘s not always possible to prevent acute cholecystitis, but you can lower your risk of developing it by reducing your hazard of getting gallstones. One of the independent things you can do to lower your chances of getting gallstones is to adopt a healthy, balanced diet and reduce the issue of high-cholesterol foods you eat, as cholesterol is thought to contribute to the constitution of gallstones. Being fleshy, particularly being corpulent, besides increases your risk of developing gallstones. You should therefore control your weight unit by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But low-calorie rapid weight loss diets should be avoided because there ‘s attest they can disrupt your bile chemistry and actually increase your risk of developing gallstones. A more gradual weight loss plan is best. Find out more about preventing gallstones

The gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small orotund organ located beneath the liver. It ‘s independent function is to store and concentrate bile. The liver produces bile, a liquid that helps digest fats and carries toxins excreted by the liver. Bile is passed from the liver through a series of channels called bile ducts into the gallbladder, where it ‘s stored. Over time bile become more condense, which makes it more effective at digesting fats.

The gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system when it ‘s needed. The gallbladder is an organ that ‘s useful, but not essential. It can safely be removed without interfering with your ability to digest food .
page death reviewed : 07 August 2019
Next review ascribable : 07 August 2022

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