Acute cholecystitis is a sudden inflammation of the gallbladder that causes severe abdominal pain. This condition is often caused by gallstones blocking the tube leading out of your gallbladder, resulting in a build-up of bile that can cause inflammation. Other causes of acute cholecystitis include bile duct problems and tumors. Symptoms may include severe pain in the right abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever, and in severe cases, jaundice of the skin and eyes. It is usually treated with antibiotics and eventually surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).

Acute Cholecystitis

Causes of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis refers to the sudden inflammation of the gallbladder. This condition is typically caused by gallstones, which are tiny, hard particles that develop in the gallbladder. The causes of acute cholecystitis include:

1. Gallstones: The most common cause, in about 90% of the cases, is gallstones causing blockage in the cystic duct, which is the tube through which bile flows into and out of the gallbladder. This blockage causes bile to build up in the gallbladder, leading to an infection and inflammation.

2. Biliary sludge: This term refers to a mixture of small particle solids that accumulate from bile, a fluid secreted by the liver to aid in digestion. Similar to gallstones, if this sludge blocks the cystic duct, it can trigger acute cholecystitis.

3. Tumors: A tumor in the gallbladder or liver can block the bile ducts and lead to acute cholecystitis.

4. Vascular issues: Sometimes, a decreased blood supply to the gallbladder can trigger acute cholecystitis. This might happen as a result of a vascular disease or a complication of surgery.

5. Infection in the bile: An infection in the bile can cause acute cholecystitis. This is usually secondary to an infection elsewhere in the body.

6. Trauma or surgery: Trauma to the abdomen or recent surgeries can also cause acute cholecystitis.

7. Fasting: Long periods of fasting or receiving nutrients intravenously can lead to acute cholecystitis.

In some rare cases, the cause of acute cholecystitis might not be obvious, and this condition is referred to as acalculous cholecystitis. This typically occurs in critically ill people and can develop without gallstones.

Risk Factors of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder, usually caused by gallstones which block the tube leading out of the gallbladder.

Risk factors for acute cholecystitis include:

1. Gender: Women are more likely than men to develop gallstones and therefore are at higher risk of acute cholecystitis.

2. Age: The risk of developing gallstones increases with age.

3. Obesity: Obesity increases the amount of cholesterol in bile, which can cause gallstones.

4. Rapid weight loss: If a person loses weight too quickly, the liver secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones.

5. Diet: Diets high in fat and cholesterol can increase your risk of gallstones.

6. Genetics: If other people in your family have had gallstones, you are at increased risk of developing gallstones.

7. Diabetic: People with diabetes generally have high levels of fatty acids called triglycerides, which can increase the risk of gallstones.

8. Medications: Certain medications that contain estrogen, such as oral contraceptives or hormone therapy drugs, can increase cholesterol levels and decrease gallbladder movement, which can lead to gallstones.

9. Prolonged fasting and rapid weight loss: Prolonged fasting can lead to gallstone formation due to delayed emptying of the gallbladder.

10. Certain diseases and conditions: People with illnesses such as diabetes or blood disorders (like sickle cell anemia) can have an increased risk of gallstones, and subsequently, acute cholecystitis.

If you’re worried about your risk of acute cholecystitis, it’s best to speak with a healthcare provider. They can help assess your risk and discuss preventive strategies.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder, which frequently occurs when a gallstone blocks the cystic duct that gallblyle uses to transport bile. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms of acute cholecystitis:

1. Abdominal Pain: This is typically sharp and cramping in nature, and located in the upper right part of your abdomen. It can also sometimes radiate to your back or right shoulder. The pain might get worse after meals, particularly after consuming fatty or greasy foods, and can be severe resulting in a constant ache.

2. Fever: A high temperature is often observed during severe cases.

3. Nausea and Vomiting: These symptoms are common, and may accompany the pain.

4. Abdominal Tenderness: Particularly in the upper right section. The abdomen may also be bloated or distended.

5. Loss of Appetite : People with acute cholecystitis may experience a loss of appetite.

6. Jaundice: This is characterized by a yellowish color of the skin, and the white part of the eyes. It is seen if a gallstone exits the gallbladder and blocks the bile flow from the liver.

It’s important to see a health care professional if you feel you have signs or symptoms consistent with acute cholecystitis. This condition can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Diagnosis Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is a medical condition that occurs when the gallbladder becomes inflamed. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located underneath the liver which stores bile, a fluid produced by the liver that aids in digestion.

Acute cholecystitis is most commonly caused by gallstones blocking the tube leading out of the gallbladder. This results in a buildup of bile which can cause inflammation and swell in the gallbladder. Besides gallstones, other causes may include bacterial infection or tumors.

Symptoms typically include severe and sudden pain in the upper-right abdomen or in the center of the abdomen, below the breastbone. This pain may radiate to the right shoulder or back. Other symptoms could include fever, nausea, vomiting, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes), and clay-colored stools.

Diagnosis of acute cholecystitis usually involves a physical exam to check for pain in the gallbladder area and blood tests to check for signs of infection. Imaging tests, such as an abdominal ultrasound, a computerized tomography (CT) scan, or a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan to check for gallstones or other abnormalities can also be used.

Once diagnosed, treatment usually involves hospitalization to control the inflammation in the gallbladder. Treatment methods often include antibiotics to fight infection and medication to relieve pain. In severe cases, a cholecystectomy, or surgical removal of the gallbladder, may be necessary.

Treatment of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder, often due to a gallstone blocking the bile ducts. Its treatment varies depending on the severity of the symptoms and the overall health of the patient.

1. Conservative/symptomatic treatment: This is usually the first step and includes:
Fasting: This helps the gallbladder rest and recovers quicker.
Fluids via IV: This prevents dehydration.
Pain medication: To manage the discomfort and pain associated with the condition.
Antibiotics: To fight the infection.

2. Gallbladder surgery (Cholecystectomy):
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: A minimally invasive procedure during which small incisions are made, and a camera is inserted to help guide the surgeon. This is often the preferred method due to a faster recovery time.
Open cholecystectomy: A more traditional surgery that uses a larger single incision. It may be chosen in certain complex cases or if the patient has had previous abdominal surgeries.

3. Percutaneous Cholecystostomy: In cases where patients are too ill to have surgery, a doctor may perform a percutaneous cholecystostomy. This procedure involves a tube being placed into the gallbladder to drain its contents, which can help lessen inflammation.

It’s important to note that any treatment plan should be discussed with and approved by a healthcare professional.

Remember, whilst cholecystectomy is a very common and relatively safe procedure, all surgeries carry a level of risk. Therefore, it is important to discuss these risks with your doctor before making a decision.

Medications commonly used for Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis refers to the inflammation of the gallbladder, often due to gallstones. Medications used for the treatment of acute cholecystitis are mainly for pain management and infection control.

1. Antibiotics: In cases where acute cholecystitis is associated with a bacterial infection, antibiotics are often prescribed to eliminate the bacteria. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently chosen up until a more precise identification of the infecting bacteria is made, examples include piperacillin/tazobactam (Zosyn), ampicillin/sulbactam (Unasyn), or a combination of metronidazole with a fluoroquinolone like ciprofloxacin. In case of penicillin allergies, an alternative like gentamicin may be used.

2. Pain medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can be used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. In severe pain, opioids such as morphine may be used.

3. Anti-emetics: Since Acute Cholecystitis can often cause nausea and vomiting, anti-emetic drugs like ondansetron or metoclopramide can be used to manage these symptoms.

Remember these are only symptom control and supportive treatment options. The definitive management for acute cholecystitis often involves surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy), which could be done as an emergency procedure or planned post stabilization depending on the clinical scenario.

Please consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication, the information here is intended to provide a general understanding and may not cover all treatment options. Every individual is unique and treatment should always be tailored to the individual needs of the patient.

Prevention of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder that usually develops due to gallstones blocking the bile ducts causing bile to build up. Although it’s challenging to directly prevent acute cholecystitis, you can lower your risk. Here are some preventive measures:

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Rapid weight loss can increase the risk of gallstones which can lead to acute cholecystitis. Therefore, strive for slow and steady weight loss and maintain a healthy weight.

2. Healthy Diet: A diet high in fats and cholesterol and low in fiber can increase your risk of gallstones. Consuming a diet that’s high in healthy fats (like avocados, nuts), lean protein (like fish, skinless chicken), and plenty of fruits and vegetables can help.

3. Exercise Regularly: Regular physical activity helps you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of gallstones.

Acute Cholecystitis

4. Avoid Crash Diets: Rapid weight loss can increase the risk of gallstones. If a person aims to lose weight, it should be gradual and consistent.

5. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: While the relationship between alcohol consumption and gallbladder issues is complicated, moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a lower risk of gallstones.

6. Regular Check-ups: Routine health checks can help identify any potential risk factors or early signs of gallstones.

Remember, the best preventive approach will vary depending on your individual health profile. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

FAQ’s about Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder that usually happens as a result of a gallstone getting stuck in the cystic duct. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about this condition:

1. What are the symptoms of acute cholecystitis?
The most common symptom is severe pain in the right upper part of the abdomen. Other symptoms can include fever, nausea, vomiting, and a loss of appetite.

2. Who is at risk for acute cholecystitis?
Risk factors include being female, being 40 or older, being overweight or obese, being pregnant, having a family history of gallstones, and certain diseases such as diabetes or blood disorders.

3. How is acute cholecystitis diagnosed?
Typically, doctors use tests like an abdominal ultrasound, a HIDA scan, or a CT scan to make the diagnosis. Blood tests may also be used to look for signs of infection or inflammation.

4. What is the treatment for acute cholecystitis?
Treatment usually involves fasting to rest the gallbladder, pain medication, and intravenous fluids. Once the inflammation has subsided, the gallbladder is usually surgically removed to prevent a recurrence.

5. What are the complications of acute cholecystitis?
If left untreated, acute cholecystitis can cause serious, life-threatening complications such as a gallbladder rupture or infection spreading to other parts of the body.

6. Is it possible to prevent acute cholecystitis?
If you are at risk for gallstones, which can lead to acute cholecystitis, your doctor might recommend staying at a healthy weight, eating a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber, and getting regular physical activity.

Remember, always consult a healthcare provider for any medical health concern. The information provided here is meant to be a general overview and may not apply to everyone.

Useful links

Acute cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder, typically caused by a blockage from a gallstone. The condition causes severe abdominal pain and may require surgery at times. It’s generally diagnosed through various imaging tests, including ultrasound, CT scan, or HIDA scan.

Here are several links from various medical journals relating to acute cholecystitis:


Remember, while these articles provide valuable medical research and information, they’re not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment options.

Complications of Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis, which is the inflammation of the gallbladder, could lead to several complications if left untreated. Here are some potential complications:

1. Gallbladder Gangrene: This is a condition where the inflammation reduces or completely blocks blood supply to the gallbladder, leading to tissue death (necrosis) in the gallbladder.

2. Gallbladder Perforation: Prolonged inflammation may cause the gallbladder wall to tear, resulting in a perforation. This could cause the gallstones and infected material to spill into the abdominal cavity, leading to a potentially life-threatening situation.

3. Gallstones in the Biliary Tract: Gallstones, which commonly cause acute cholecystitis, can occasionally migrate into the biliary tract where they cause blockage. This blockage can lead to jaundice, cholangitis (inflammation of the bile duct), or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

4. Empyema: With this condition, the gallbladder fills with pus, exacerbating the inflammation and pain, potentially leading to sepsis if the infection spreads to the blood.

5. Fistulas: Prolonged inflammation can lead to an abnormal connection (fistula) between the gallbladder and nearby organs, such as the small intestine.

6. Infection in the Abdominal Cavity: If acute cholecystitis is not treated promptly, it can lead to broader, more serious infections within the abdominal cavity, such as peritonitis, which is a serious and potentially life-threatening inflammation of the abdominal lining.

7. Sepsis: This is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues. Sepsis can cause organ failure.

In summary, untreated or severely progressed acute cholecystitis can lead to serious complications. It is vital that patients with severe or persistent symptoms seek immediate medical attention.

Home remedies of Acute cholecystitis

Cholecystitis is a medical condition that should ideally be evaluated and treated by a healthcare professional. It often involves inflammation or infection of the gallbladder, leading to severe pain and possibly serious complications.

For acute cholecystitis, treatment frequently involves hospitalization, pain medication, antibiotics, and often surgery to remove the gallbladder.

However, some home remedies may aid in managing less severe symptoms and preventing future episodes. These should be adjunctive measures and should never replace medical advice or attention:

1. Diet: Consuming low-fat, high-fiber food may help prevent gallstones that can contribute to acute cholecystitis.

2. Hydration: Drinking plenty of water can assist with digestion and maintain the health of your digestive tract.

3. Warm Compress: Applying a warm compress to the affected area could help in reducing discomfort or pain.

4. Herbal Remedies: Certain herbs may help improve your digestive health including Peppermint, Milk Thistle, and Turmeric.

5. Gentle exercise: Regular, gentle physical activity can help stimulate normal contractions of the gallbladder and decrease the likelihood of gallstone formation.

6. Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of developing gallstones. Rapid weight loss can increase your risk, so weight should be lost gradually.

7. Avoid skipping meals: Regular, smaller meals can help maintain stable digestive processes and prevent the formation of gallstones.

Keep in mind that while these measures may help prevent episodes of gallbladder disease, they are not guaranteed to prevent it and they aren’t robust treatments. Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before starting any regimen to manage or prevent this medical condition. In the event of acute cholecystitis, medical attention should be sought immediately to prevent complications.

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Last Update: January 11, 2024