The gallbladder is located under the liver and is the organ responsible for storing the bile that the body uses to metabolize fats in the small intestine. When bile becomes trapped in the gallbladder, it becomes inflamed and acute cholecystitis occurs, leading to infection. In general, this condition causes very intense pain in the upper abdomen; its appearance is associated with the presence of gallstones and is more common in obese women or those who have had more than one child. In this FastlyHealarticle, you will find everything you need to know about acute cholecystitis: symptoms, causes and treatment .
Table of Contents
Symptoms of acute cholecystitis
- Abdominal pain: The main symptom of acute cholecystitis is severe pain in the upper right or middle part of the abdomen that can last up to 30 minutes. This pain may be crampy or dull and may radiate down the back or below the right shoulder blade. Pain is also evident during abdominal palpation.
- Vomiting: The person with acute cholecystitis may experience episodes of vomiting and nausea that will be key to diagnosing this pathology.
- Fever: Febrile periods due to infection are common. The fever usually goes down very soon after taking medicine.
A person with acute cholecystitis may also experience:
- Stools are similar in color to clay.
- Jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and eyes.
- Soft spot.
- Loss of appetite
- Dark urine
Causes of acute cholecystitis
Acute cholecystitis occurs when bile gets stuck in the gallbladder. This happens in most cases because a gallstone blocks the duct through which bile travels in and out of the gallbladder. Faced with this scenario, bitterness accumulates within the organ and causes irritation and pressure, leading to inflammation and later infection. Gallstones are hard masses that settle inside the gallbladder and can be made up of cholesterol or bilirubin. They are more common in indigenous women, Americans, Hispanics, over 40, and overweight.
Water cholecystitis without stones is very rare and is usually associated with the following causes:
- Diseases such as diabetes and HIV.
- Sporadic: gallbladder tumors.
- To be a woman.
- Consumption of birth control pills.
- Hormone therapy.
- Advanced age.
- Lose and gain weight quickly.
How Acute Cholecystitis Is Diagnosed
When the episodes of abdominal pain are constant and unbearable, the person will go to the emergency room, where they will be questioned to be aware of the symptoms. Then a physical exam will be done. During the physical examination, it is common for the person to experience pain when the specialist palpates the abdomen with their hands, which will be an essential indication of acute cholecystitis or gallstones.
However, to make the correct diagnosis of the pathology, it will be necessary for the doctor to prescribe a series of blood tests such as:
- Liver function tests.
It will also be necessary to perform abdominal studies to determine if there is inflammation, irritation, infection, and stones in the gallbladder. For this, the specialist may indicate the performance of:
- Abdominal echo.
- CT scan of the abdomen.
- Oral cholecystography.
- Abdominal X-ray.
- Radionuclide gallbladder scan.
Treatment of acute cholecystitis
Acute cholecystitis is a condition that can heal on its own, but with gallstones, it is a more complex condition that usually warrants removal of the gallbladder. Therefore, once the person enters the emergency room, they will be given analgesics to combat the pain and antibiotics if the infection is present.
When cholecystitis does not require surgical intervention, treatment consists of:
- Analgesics for pain.
- Antibiotics for infection.
- Low-fat diet.
Gallbladder removal is necessary for any of the following scenarios:
- Death of gallbladder tissue (gangrene).
- Hole in the wall of the gallbladder.
- Inflammation of the pancreas.
- Blockage of the bile ducts.
- Inflammation of the common bile duct.
In some cases, when acute cholecystitis is very complicated, the person needs to be placed with a catheter to drain the fluid and then surgery. Most people who undergo gallbladder removal make a full recovery, as it is the most effective alternative to prevent further attacks or complications.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Acute cholecystitis: symptoms, causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.