What is cholecystitis?
Cholecystitis is an inflammation of the gallbladder wall and nearby abdominal lining. Cholecystitis is usually caused by a gallstone in the cystic duct, the duct that connects the gallbladder to the hepatic duct. Other causes of cholecystitis may include the following:
- bacterial infection in the bile duct system The bile duct system is the drainage system that carries bile from the liver and gallbladder into the area of the small intestine called the duodenum.
- tumor of the pancreas or liver
- decreased blood supply to the gallbladder This can sometimes occur in persons with diabetes.
- gallbladder sludge
This "sludge" is a thick material that cannot be absorbed by bile in the gallbladder and most commonly occurs in pregnant women or individuals who have experienced a rapid weight loss.
Cholecystitis can occur suddenly or gradually over many years.
What are the symptoms of cholecystitis?
A typical attack of cholecystitis usually lasts two to three days. The following are the most common symptoms of gallstones. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- intense and sudden pain in the upper right part of the abdomen
- recurrent painful attacks for several hours after meals
- pain (often worse with deep breaths and extends to lower part of right shoulder blade)
- rigid abdominal muscles on right side
- slight fever
- jaundice - yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- itching (rare)
- loose, light-colored bowel movements
- abdominal bloating
The symptoms of cholecystitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How is Cholecystitis diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform tests to determine if you have gallstones or inflammation. The most common tests are:
- abdominal ultrasound
- blood tests (looking for elevated white blood cells)
- abdominal CT scan
- abdominal X-ray
Can Cholecystitis be Treated?
Yes. Sometimes cholecystitis will go away without treatment. However, most times treatment is needed. Treatments may include: surgery to remove the gallbladder or draining the gallbladder. Draining is used in very ill patients.
Complications of Cholecystitis?
If not treated properly or soon, complications may develop. Common complications of cholecystitis are:
- pus in the gallbladder
- inflammation of the lining of the abdomen
- tissue death of the gallbladder
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