Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. It is usually caused by a gallstone blocking the cystic duct.

Acute cholecystitis is a sudden inflammation of the gallbladder that causes severe abdominal pain.

Call your health care provider if you think you have cholecystitis. If not treated properly complications will occur.


In about 90% cases, acute cholecystitis is caused by a gallstone obstructing a duct in the gallbladder. When a gallstone obstructs a duct in the gallbladder, bile becomes trapped in the gallbladder and causes infection.

Other causes of cholecystitis are: alcohol abuse, severe illness, and tumors in the gallbladder.


Unfortunately, symptoms may not appear for a number of years. When they do appear, the most common ones are:

  • pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen that lasts for more than 6 hours
  • nausea
  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • jaundice
  • chills


Your doctor will perform tests to determine if you have gallstones or inflammation. The most common tests are:

  • abdominal ultrasound (to detect inflammation)
  • blood tests (looking for elevated white blood cells)
  • abdominal CT scan
  • abdominal X-ray

Treatment Options?

Sometimes cholecystitis will go away without treatment. However, most times treatment is needed. Treatments may include: surgery to remove the gallbladder or draining the gallbladder. Draining is most commonly used in very ill patients.

Complications of Cholecystitis?

If not treated properly or soon, complications may develop. Common complications of cholecystitis are:

  • pus in the gallbladder
  • inflammation of the lining of the abdomen
  • tissue death of the gallbladder