Click here to return to the LMHS Home Page

 

Print-Friendly
Bookmarks

Chronic cholecystitis

Cholecystitis - chronic

 

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.

Causes

 

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.

 

Symptoms

 

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:

  • 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
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider may order the following blood tests:

  • Amylase and lipase. To diagnose diseases of the pancreas.
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver function tests. To evaluate how well the liver is working.

Tests that reveal gallstones or inflammation in the gallbladder include:

  • Abdominal CT scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Gallbladder scan (HIDA scan)
  • Oral cholecystogram

 

Treatment

 

Surgery is the most common treatment. Surgery to remove the gallbladder is called cholecystectomy.

  • 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.

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.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Cholecystectomy is a common procedure with a low risk.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications may include:

  • Cancer of the gallbladder (rarely)
  • Jaundice
  • Pancreatitis
  • Worsening of the condition

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of cholecystitis.

 

Prevention

 

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.

 

 

References

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.

BACK TO TOPText only

 
  • Cholecystitis, CT scan

    Cholecystitis, CT scan

    illustration

  • Cholecystitis, cholangiogram

    Cholecystitis, cholangio...

    illustration

  • Cholecystolithiasis

    Cholecystolithiasis

    illustration

  • Gallstones, cholangiogram

    Gallstones, cholangiogra...

    illustration

  • Cholecystogram

    Cholecystogram

    illustration

    • Cholecystitis, CT scan

      Cholecystitis, CT scan

      illustration

    • Cholecystitis, cholangiogram

      Cholecystitis, cholangio...

      illustration

    • Cholecystolithiasis

      Cholecystolithiasis

      illustration

    • Gallstones, cholangiogram

      Gallstones, cholangiogra...

      illustration

    • Cholecystogram

      Cholecystogram

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Talking to your MD

       

        Self Care

         

          Tests for Chronic cholecystitis

           
             

            Review Date: 1/22/2015

            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. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

             
             
             

             

             

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.