Acute Cholecystitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Acute cholecystitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the gallbladder, which can lead to severe pain and discomfort. It is most commonly caused by gallstones blocking the bile ducts, leading to the build-up of bile and inflammation. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for acute cholecystitis.


Acute cholecystitis occurs when the gallbladder becomes inflamed due to the obstruction of the cystic duct by gallstones. The blockage leads to the accumulation of bile, causing the gallbladder to swell and become irritated. In some cases, acute cholecystitis can also be caused by infections or other medical conditions that affect the gallbladder.


The symptoms of acute cholecystitis can be severe and may include:

  • Sudden and intense pain in the upper right or center of the abdomen
  • Pain that radiates to the right shoulder or back
  • Tenderness in the abdomen, especially on the right side
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills


The primary cause of acute cholecystitis is the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder. When these stones block the cystic duct, bile cannot flow freely, leading to inflammation and pain. In some cases, acute cholecystitis may also be caused by infections, such as bacteria ascending from the intestines into the gallbladder.


Diagnosing acute cholecystitis typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound to visualize the gallbladder and check for gallstones
  • Blood tests to assess liver function and look for signs of inflammation
  • HIDA scan (cholescintigraphy) to evaluate gallbladder function and identify blockages
  • CT scan or MRI to obtain detailed images of the gallbladder and surrounding structures


The treatment for acute cholecystitis typically involves managing the symptoms and addressing the underlying cause. Options may include:

  • Fasting: In the early stages of acute cholecystitis, fasting may be recommended to rest the gallbladder and reduce inflammation.
  • Pain management: Over-the-counter or prescription pain medications may be used to alleviate discomfort.
  • Antibiotics: If an infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection.
  • Gallstone removal: In some cases, the gallstones may be removed using nonsurgical procedures, such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or oral dissolution therapy.
  • Surgery: If the condition is severe or recurrent, surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) may be recommended.


To reduce the risk of acute cholecystitis, it is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage conditions that may contribute to gallstone formation. Preventive measures include:

  • Maintaining a balanced diet and managing weight
  • Avoiding crash diets or rapid weight loss
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding or limiting high-cholesterol and high-fat foods


Acute cholecystitis is a painful condition caused by inflammation of the gallbladder, often due to gallstone obstruction. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential to relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Lifestyle modifications and preventive measures can reduce the risk of gallstone formation. If you experience symptoms of acute cholecystitis, seek prompt medical attention for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and treatment options specific to your condition.