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Symptoms and Signs of Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation)

Doctor's Notes on Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation)

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder. The signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include the following:

  • Upper-right abdominal pain (most common symptom)
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain may radiate to the right shoulder or scapula.
  • Pain may be intermittent but usually becomes constant once inflammation begins.
  • Pain may begin in the epigastric area and localizes in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Right upper quadrant tenderness and possible palpable, enlarged gallbladder
  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Jaundice (yellow eyes and skin) if the duct from the liver and gallbladder entering the intestine is blocked
  • The elderly and children may not have the usual symptoms.

The following are causes of cholecystitis:

  • Gallstones that block (obstruct) the cystic duct
  • Bile duct scarring or narrowing
  • Bile duct obstructing tumors
  • Trauma to the gallbladder or the bile duct
  • Gallbladder infections

Treatments depend on the cause and severity of complications. Many patients may receive outpatient treatments while others may require surgical care, including gallstone and/or gallbladder removal.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/19/2020


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.