Also known as: Cholecystitis - chronic
- Sharp, cramping, or dull pain in upper right or upper middle of your belly
- Steady pain lasting about 30 minutes
- Pain that spreads to your back or below your right shoulder blade
- Clay-colored stools
- Nausea and vomiting
- Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Amylase and lipase. To diagnose diseases of the pancreas.
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Liver function tests. To evaluate how well the liver is working.
- Abdominal CT scan
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Gallbladder scan (HIDA scan)
- Oral cholecystogram
- Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is most often done. This surgery uses smaller surgical cuts, which result in a faster recovery. Many people are able to go home from the hospital on the same day as surgery, or the next morning.
- Open cholecystectomy requires a larger cut in the upper-right part of the abdomen.
- Cancer of the gallbladder (rarely)
- Worsening of the condition
Chronic cholecystitis is swelling and irritation of the gallbladder that continues over time.
The gallbladder is a sac located under the liver. It stores bile that is made in the liver. Bile helps the intestines digest fats.
Most of the time, chronic cholecystitis is caused by repeated attacks of acute (sudden) cholecystitis. Most of these attacks are caused by gallstones in the gallbladder.
These attacks cause the walls of the gallbladder to thicken. The gallbladder begins to shrink. Over time, the gallbladder is less able to concentrate, store, and release bile.
The disease occurs more often in women than in men. It is more common after age 40.
Acute cholecystitis is a painful condition that leads to chronic cholecystitis. It is not clear whether chronic cholecystitis causes any symptoms.
Symptoms of acute cholecystis can include:
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider may order the following blood tests:
Tests that reveal gallstones or inflammation in the gallbladder include:
Surgery is the most common treatment. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy.
If you are too ill to have surgery because of other diseases or conditions, the gallstones may be dissolved with medicine you take by mouth. However, this may take 2 years or longer to work. The stones may return after treatment.
Cholecystectomy is a common procedure with a low risk.
Complications may include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cholecystitis.
The condition is not always preventable. Eating less fatty foods may relieve symptoms in people. However, the benefit of a low-fat diet has not been proven.
Wang DQH, Afdhal NH. Gallstone disease. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 65.
- Review date:
- December 07, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Subodh K. Lal, MD, Gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.