What Is Cholecystitis?

Are you experiencing intense stomach pain, especially after eating? If so, you may be suffering from a serious condition called cholecystitis.

What is Cholecystitis?

In the upper right hand portion of the abdomen, above the liver, is the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a digestive organ responsible for storing bile created by the liver, and passing it on to the intestines to help digest fatty foods.

Sometimes, the gallbladder becomes unable to fully clear its store of bile. This can be because of a gallstone-- a hardened deposit of bile-- blocking the way, or more rarely, because the gallbladder stops emptying itself properly. In those with cholecystitis, the gallbladder becomes inflamed.

In acute cholecystitis, the gallbladder becomes inflamed suddenly, usually with some degree of infection present. The attack only lasts two or three days, and then clears up completely. Chronic cholecystitis, on the other hand, involves frequent, recurring attacks of pain.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of cholecystitis include stomach pain, particularly in the upper right corner of the abdomen. The pain may be severe enough that it radiates between the shoulder blade, and sometimes the right shoulder itself will hurt.

Those with acute cholecystitis are more likely to be feverish and experience a more intense pain than those with chronic cholecystitis. This is generally due to the presence of an infection.

In some cases, the gallbladder may rupture as the result of inflammation. If this happens, severe pain, fever, and sepsis may occur.

How is Cholecystitis diagnosed?

The area surrounding the gallbladder is usually sensitive to the touch in those with cholecystitis. A doctor may perform a physical examination of the area, checking for sensitivity and any stiffening of the abdominal muscles. Blood work may also be useful for checking on liver and pancreatic health, as both can be damaged by an improperly functioning gallbladder.

If cholecystitis is suspected, the patient will likely undergo a cat scan or ultrasound to look at the gallbladder. A cholescintigraphy test, where a radioactive substance is injected into the patient, can help detect any blockage in the organ.

How is it treated?

Many times, cholecystitis is treated through a cholecystectomy-- removal of the gallbladder. This is usually done laparoscopically using several small incisions. Occasionally, an open procedure using a single large incision is necessary.

If an acute attack clears up, the patient may be advised to lose weight, increase activity, and eat a low-fat diet in lieu of removing the gallbladder.  

If you suspect you may have cholecystitis, it's important to see your doctor as soon as possible to cut down on the risk of complications. To find out more, contact a business like Entira Family Clinics.