©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

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

Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation) Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Upper abdominal pain (most common symptom)
    • 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
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Jaundice if the duct from the liver and gallbladder entering the intestine is blocked
The elderly and children may not have the classic findings; they may have vague findings that can delay diagnosis and, in some patients, lead to rapidly occurring complications.

Cholecystitis (Gallbladder Inflammation) Causes

There are many causes of cholecystitis, for example:

  • Gallstones blocking the cystic duct of the gallbladder
  • Bile duct like scarring or narrowing
  • Tumors
  • Trauma to the gallbladder and/or the bile ducts
  • Infections of the gallbladder

Risk factors for gallstones and associated cholecystitis include:

  • High-fat diet
  • Obesity
  • Increasing age
  • Female sex
  • Diabetes
  • Rapid weight loss
  • HIV infection
  • Pregnancy
  • Drugs (for example, erythromycin, dapsone, narcotics and others)

Digestive Disorders Common Misconceptions Slideshow

Digestive Disorders Common Misconceptions Slideshow

The proper functioning of the digestive system is one of the foundations of health, but many myths surround digestive disorders. In this slideshow we separate fact from fiction about digestive diseases.

REFERENCE:

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

CONTINUE SCROLLING FOR RELATED SLIDESHOW