Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder, a small sac that sits under the liver and stores bile after it is produced by the liver.
Gallstones are formed in the gallbladder from cholesterol and other material found in bile. A high concentration of cholesterol in bile and conditions such as pregnancy, which interfere with normal gallbladder emptying, promote gallstone formation.
Gallstones may be tiny or as large as a golf ball.
Gallstones are quite common and most people will have no symptoms. When gallstones obstruct the flow of bile from the gallbladder pain will occur.
Cholecystitis occurs when a stone travels out of the gallbladder and becomes trapped in the cystic duct, the tube that drains the gallbladder. This causes the gallbladder to swell and become infected by bacteria.
Symptoms of cholecystitis include pain in the right upper abdomen, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
The diagnosis is made by a history of typical symptoms, physical examination, blood tests, and an imaging study of the abdomen such as an ultrasound.
The obstruction of the cystic duct can be confirmed by a nuclear medicine test known as a HIDA Scan which evaluates gallbladder function.
Treatment for Cholecystitis usually consists of antibiotics and surgical removal of the diseased gallbladder.