Acute cholecystitis: Overview, Causes

Definition

Acute cholecystitis is a sudden inflammation of the gallbladder that causes severe abdominal pain.

Alternate Names : Cholecystitis – acute

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

In 90% of cases, acute cholecystitis is caused by gallstones in the gallbladder. Severe illness and, rarely, tumors of the gallbladder may also cause cholecystitis.

Acute cholecystitis causes bile to become trapped in the gallbladder. The buildup of bile causes irritation and pressure in the gallbladder. This can lead to bacterial infection and perforation of the organ.

Gallstones occur more frequently in women than men. Gallstones become more common with age in both sexes. Native Americans have a higher rate of gallstones.

Pictures & Images

Digestive system

The esophagus, stomach, large and small intestine, aided by the liver, gallbladder and pancreas convert the nutritive components of food into energy and break down the non-nutritive components into waste to be excreted.

Cholecystitis, CT scan

Cholecystitis, CT scan

This is a CT scan of the upper abdomen showing cholecystitis (gall stones).

Cholecystitis, cholangiogram

Cholecystitis, cholangiogram

Cholelithiasis can be seen on a cholangiogram. Radio-opaque dye is used to enhance the x-ray. Multiple stones are present in the gallbladder (PTCA).

Cholecystolithiasis

Cholecystolithiasis

Cholecystolithiasis. CT scan of the upper abdomen showing multiple gallstones.

Gallstones, cholangiogram

Gallstones, cholangiogram

A cholecystogram in a patient with gallstones.

Digestive system organs

Digestive system organs

The digestive system organs in the abdominal cavity include the liver, gallbladder, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

Gallbladder removal – series
Normal anatomy

Gallbladder removal - series : Normal anatomy

The gallbladder is located in the abdomen, on the right side, underneath the liver. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver, and delivers it to the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), where it aids in the digestion of fat. The cystic and common bile ducts connect the gallbladder to the duodenum-bile passes through these ducts from the gallbladder to the duodenum.


Review Date : 7/6/2009
Reviewed By : George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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