What is Cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder which is a small, oval organ on the right side of the belly, beneath the liver. The gallbladder holds a fluid called the bile, that's released into the small intestine to help with digestion.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture. 


Cholecystitis can be caused by:

Gallstones which can block the tube (cystic duct) through which bile causing inflammation.Tumors, also, if present, may prevent bile from draining out of your gallbladder properly leading to cholecystitis.Infection with AIDS and certain viral infections can trigger gallbladder inflammation.Also, very severe illness can damage blood vessels and decrease blood flow to the gallbladder, leading to cholecystitis.


Signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

Pain in the right upper or the center of the abdomenThe pain can spread to the back and shouldersNausea and vomitingLoss of appetiteFever 

The symptoms usually happen after large fatty meals


The diagnosis of cholecystitis requires history and physical exam, there are some tests that your doctor will order for further assessment.

Your doctor may order blood tests to check for high blood cell count, which indicates infection

Your doctor may also recommend imaging studies such as abdominal ultrasound, CT scan or MRI to help confirm the diagnosis and rule out other complications or pain sources

There is also a special scan that shows the movement of bile through the gall bladder and show blockages, which is called HIDA scan


The treatment of cholecystitis may require hospitalization to control the inflammation with antibiotics, pain medications, and a procedure to remove the gall stones, which is called ERCP.  Sometimes a surgery may be needed to remove the inflamed gall bladder.

In some cases, a gall bladder surgery is not an option, so gall bladder drainage is done through the skin to remove the infected content of the gall bladder and relieve the inflammation.


You can reduce your risk of cholecystitis by taking the following steps:

Lose weight slowly. Rapid weight loss can increase the risk of gallstones.Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight makes you more likely to develop gallstonesAlways eat a healthy diet. Diets high in fat and low in fiber may increase the risk of gallstones. To lower your risk, choose a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.