What Causes Cholecystitis: Its Symptoms And How To Diagnose It?

The gallbladder is an important part of the gastrointestinal system and plays a vital role in the storage of bile salts. Bile salts play a crucial role in the digestion of fats and proteins. Cholecystitis is a condition which is characterized by inflammation of the inner lining of the gallbladder. While cholecystitis may be associated with symptoms like pain and jaundice, severe inflammation may lead to complications which may require immediate medical attention.

If the condition is not treated promptly it can lead to complications including rupture of the gallbladder and can be life threatening. This article provides information about what is cholecystitis and how it can be diagnosed.

Cholecystitis is a condition which is characterized by the inflammation of the gallbladder and is caused due to a host of factors,

  • A majority of cholecystitis are attributed to gallbladder stones, which cause the blockage of the bile duct.
    This results in obstruction of the flow of bile from the bladder, which in turn leads to inflammation of the gallbladder.
  • Tumor of the pancreas or the liver may also obstruct the opening of the gallbladder, which may result in cholecystitis.
  • In some cases, scarring of the bile duct can cause the blockage of the gallbladder and in turn lead to cholecystitis.

Symptoms And Complications Of Cholecystitis

Some of the common symptoms associated with inflammation of the gall bladder include the following,

  • Severe and radiating pain affecting the right side of the abdomen. The pain radiates to the right shoulder or the back.
  • Severe tenderness of the abdomen.
  • Excessive sweating often associated with fever with chills.
  • Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms observed alongside the pain.
  • Abdominal distention is also observed in most of the cases.

The symptoms of cholecystitis tend to get aggravated after a meal, especially a heavy meal or a fat rich meal.

Cholecystitis Complications

Some of the common complications associated with cholecystitis include the following,

  • Enlargement of the gall bladder due to excessive accumulation of bile. The enlargement of the gall bladder is associated with higher risk of tear and rupture of the bladder, resulting in ascites.
  • Infection of the gallbladder may also be observed primarily due to accumulation of bile salts in the bladder.
  • If cholecystitis is left untreated, it can increase the risk of gangrene or tissue death.

How To Diagnose Cholecystitis?

The primary diagnosis of cholecystitis is based on symptoms and physical signs. Tenderness in the right side of abdomen especially on pressure is indicative of cholecystitis or gall stones. Blood investigations may indicate increase is indirect bilirubin in the blood. However there are several confirmatory tests that need to be performed to confirm cholecystitis,

  • Ultrasound scan of the gall bladder may indicate the presence of the stone or a stricture along the bile duct which can be associated with inflammation. Distention and enlargement of the gall stone may also be captured on an ultrasound.
  • CT scan may help in identifying the possibility of inflammation of the linings of the gall bladder.
  • Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid scan tracks the production and flow of bile from the liver to the small intestine. This scan helps in identifying the exact site of obstruction and helps in deciding appropriate treatment regimen.