Cholecystitis (pronounced ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the gallbladder. It happens when a digestive juice called bile gets trapped in your gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small organ under your liver. It stores bile which is made in the liver.
Normally bile drains out of your gallbladder and into your small intestine. If the bile is blocked, it builds up in your gallbladder. This causes inflammation and can cause infection.
Cholecystitis can be sudden (acute) or long-term (chronic).
Cholecystitis happens when a digestive juice called bile gets trapped in your gallbladder.
In most cases, this happens because lumps of solid material (gallstones) are blocking a tube that drains bile from the gallbladder.
When gallstones block this tube, bile builds up in your gallbladder. This causes irritation and pressure in the gallbladder. It can cause swelling and infection.
The gallbladder stores bile. Gallstones are formed in your gallbladder. They are made from bile.
Other causes of cholecystitis include:
Cholecystitis can happen suddenly (acute) or it can be long-term (chronic).
In most cases, an attack of cholecystitis lasts 2 to 3 days. Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of cholecystitis may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.
Your healthcare provider will look at your past health and give you a physical exam.
You may also have some blood tests including:
You may also have imaging tests, including:
You will likely be admitted to a hospital to rest your gallbladder. You may need surgery to remove your gallbladder.
In the hospital your treatment may include:
Your symptoms may get better with this treatment.
But if your cholecystitis is caused by gallstones in your gallbladder, your gallbladder will need to be removed. Gallbladder removal (called cholecystectomy) is a common surgery. Your body will work well without your gallbladder. It is not essential for a healthy life.
You may have surgery done right away. If you are too sick to have surgery, a small tube may be put through your skin and into your gallbladder. This will drain the bile and ease your symptoms until you can have surgery.
Other treatment options may include:
In some cases cholecystitis can cause other problems including:
If your gallbladder has not been removed and you have more attacks of cholecystitis, you may develop long-term (chronic) cholecystitis.
Chronic cholecystitis may not cause any symptoms. But it can damage the walls of your gallbladder. The walls can become scarred and get thicker. Your gallbladder will start to get smaller. Over time, it will be less able to store and release bile. You will need surgery to remove your gallbladder.
Call your healthcare provider right away if:
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