Encyclopedia Home / A / Acute cholecystitis

Acute cholecystitis

  • Alternative Names

    Cholecystitis - acute


    Seek immediate medical attention for severe abdominal pain.

    In the emergency room, patients with acute cholecystitis are given fluids through a vein and antibiotics to fight infection.

    Although cholecystitis may clear up on its own, surgery to remove the gallbladder (cholecystectomy) is usually needed when inflammation continues or recurs. Surgery is usually done as soon as possible, however some patients will not need surgery right away.

    Nonsurgical treatment includes pain medicines, antibiotics to fight infection, and a low-fat diet (when food can be tolerated).

    Emergency surgery may be necessary if gangrene (tissue death), perforation, pancreatitis, or inflammation of the common bile duct occurs.

    Occasionally, in very ill patients, a tube may be placed through the skin to drain the gallbladder until the patient gets better and can have surgery.

    Support Groups

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Patients who have surgery to remove the gallbladder usually do very well.

    • Empyema (pus in the gallbladder)
    • Gangrene (tissue death) of the gallbladder
    • Injury to the bile ducts draining the liver (a rare complication of cholecystectomy)
    • Pancreatitis
    • Peritonitis (inflammation of the lining of the abdomen)

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if severe abdominal pain persists.

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms of cholecystitis recur after an acute episode.