Cholecystitis: Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Diagnosis and Treatment

Cholecystitis is inflammation of gallbladder which occurs when bile from the liver can not released into the small intestine because of some obstruction.

Updated: November 29, 2017

Cholecystitis is inflammation of gallbladder which occurs when bile from the liver can not released  into the small intestine because of some obstruction.
The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that is released into your small intestine.
In most cases, when gallstones are formed it blocks the tube leading out of your gallbladder to release bile causing cholecystitis. This results in a bile buildup that can cause the gallbladder to thicken, harden, swell, and become irritated. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems, tumors, serious illness and certain infections.

Symptoms of Cholecystitis:

The most common symptoms of cholecystitis are:

  • Severe pain in your upper right or center abdomen
  • Pain that spreads to your right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness over your abdomen when it is touched
  • Pain that persists for more than six hours
  • Pain after eating a meal, particularly a large or fatty one.
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating in belly
  • Soreness in the right part of the abdomen

Cholecystitis can be chronic. A persistent and long-lasting swelling of the gallbladder which can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture. It can be acute, such as a sudden attack that causes swelling and irritation of the gallbladder.Acute cholecystitis can develop into chronic cholecystitis if left untreated.

Causes of Cholecystitis:

Gallbladder inflammation can be caused by:

Gallstones:

When gallstones are formed it blocks the tube leading out of your gallbladder to release bile causing cholecystitis.

Tumor:

A tumor in the liver or pancreas may prevent bile from draining out of your gallbladder properly, causing bile buildup that can lead to cholecystitis.

Bile duct blockage:

Kinking or scarring of the bile ducts can cause blockages that lead to cholecystitis.

Infection:

AIDS and certain viral infections can trigger gallbladder inflammation.

Blood vessel problems:

A very severe illness such as diabetes can damage blood vessels and decrease blood flow to the gallbladder, leading to cholecystitis.

Gallbladder sludge :

Pregnant women and people who have lost a lot of weight in a short period of time can experience a thick substance that pollutes the gallbladder and can not be absorbed.

Complications of Cholecystitis:

Cholecystitis can lead to a number of serious complications, including:

Infection within the gallbladder:

If bile builds up within your gallbladder, causing cholecystitis, the gallbladder may become infected.

Death of gallbladder tissue:

It is the most common complication, especially among older people and those with diabetes.  Untreated cholecystitis can cause tissue in the gallbladder to die which can lead to a tear in the gallbladder.It may cause your gallbladder to burst also.

Torn gallbladder:

Because of gallbladder swelling, infection or death of tissue there may be a perforation in your gallbladder.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Cholecystitis:

Cholecystitis can be diagnosed with the help of a physical examination, medical history of the patient, ultrasounds, X-rays, and some imaging tests to detect gallbladder inflammation.
Once diagnosed, cholecystitis can be treated with:

  • Cholecystectomy, the surgical removal of the gallbladder
  • Medications to manage pain
  • Medications to dissolve the gallstones
  • Medications to prevent gallstones formation
  • Medications to dissolve the gallstones
  • Medications to keep gallstones from forming
  • Switching to a low-fat diet

Mild cholecystitis can be treated by adjusting diet, taking antibiotics, and drinking plenty of fluids to reduce the inflammation. However more serious cases of cholecystitis require hospitalization as well as antibiotics to manage inflammation and infection in the gallbladder.
To prevent complications of cholecystitis, such as jaundice, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), gallbladder cancer, or gallbladder inflammation, treatment should be started as early it is diagnosed. The right treatment plan to tackle cholecystitis depends on your symptoms, your age, how well you can tolerate the treatment, and your general health.


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