Cholecystitis

What is cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gall bladder. It is a common condition. It tends to affect women more frequently than men, and becomes more common with age. The gallbladder stores bile, which is a liquid produced by the liver to digest fatty foods. After eating, the gallbladder squeezes bile down the bile tract and into the intestine. In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by a gallstone blocking the drainage of gall into the bowel. The condition usually has a sudden beginning, starting with pain in the upper or upper-right areas of the belly. Treatment is usually pain relief and antibiotics. The gallbladder may eventually need to be surgically removed (a cholecystectomy). Most people recover well from cholecystitis.

Risks

Cholecystitis is a common condition. Women are more likely than men to have cholecystitis and this condition becomes more common with age. Other factors that increase the risk of cholecystitis are being overweight, having a family member who suffers cholecystitis, and (in women) having 1 or more children. In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by a gallstone blocking the drain of gall into the bowel. There may also be an infection of the gall bladder.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms include pain in the upper or upper-right area of the belly, sweating, nausea/vomiting and symptoms that are worse when eating fatty food. Fever may suggest a bacterial infection.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is made by a doctor based on the symptoms and physical examination. Blood tests are often taken to test for signs of infection or liver problems. An ultrasound scan or a computer tomography (CT) scan may be needed to examine the gallbladder.

Treatment

Treatment of cholecystitis is usually pain relief and antibiotics. Avoiding fatty foods can help reduce the symptoms of cholecystitis. In recurrent, persistent or severe cases, surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) may be recommended. If the cause is gall stones stuck in the bile duct, a procedure called ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) may be performed.This involves an endoscopy (a long camera through the mouth to the stomach and bile duct) to remove the stones.

Prevention

Reducing the amount of fatty food in the diet and losing weight gradually may also help to avoid further episodes of cholecystitis.