Inflammation of the gallbladder is called cholecystitis. This is most commonly caused by a gallstone blocking the tube that goes out of the gallbladder. Bile can build up and causes inflammation or an infection. This can lead to worsening infection or rupture of the gallbladder if not treated. Some patients can have chronic inflammation, but most patients have a sudden attack of cholecystitis. Some people can have cholecystitis without gallstones, but this is less common.


Some of the common symptoms are severe pain in the right or mid-abdomen that can radiate to the back, fever, nausea, vomiting, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

How is it diagnosed?

There are many studies that can help diagnose cholecystitis. Your doctor may order an ultrasound, CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan, HIDA (hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid) scan, MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) or blood work. Different studies are better for different situations and your doctor can help order the correct test.

What is the treatment?

Surgical removal of the gallbladder is usually the best treatment for cholecystitis. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for antibiotics and gallbladder surgery. Sometimes patients need a separate procedure called an ERCP (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to remove stones from the bile ducts before gallbladder removal surgery. If patients are not healthy enough for surgery, then placement of a drainage tube into the gallbladder is another treatment performed by an interventional radiologist. Medicine alone does not usually treat cholecystitis.