Inflammation of the gallbladder is called cholecystitis. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of the abdomen, beneath the liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid which is released into the small intestine, the bile. In most cases, cholecystitis is caused by the gallstones which block the tube leading out of the gallbladder. As a result, a bile buildup can cause inflammation. Bile duct problems and tumors are the other causes of cholecystitis.

If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture. Treatment for cholecystitis often involves a surgery to remove the gallbladder.



The symptoms of cholecystitis may include:

  • Tenderness over the abdomen when it is touched,
  • Severe pain in the upper right abdomen,
  • Pain that radiates from to the right shoulder or back,
  • Nausea,
  • Fever,
  • Vomiting.

The symptoms often occur after a meal, a large or fatty meal in particular.



When the gallbladder becomes inflamed, cholecystitis occurs. Gallbladder inflammation can be caused by the gallstones, the hard particles that develop in the gallbladder. They can block the cystic duct, causing bile to build up and resulting in inflammation. A tumor may also prevent bile from draining out of the gallbladder properly, causing bile buildup that can lead to cholecystitis. Twisting or scarring of the bile ducts can also cause blockages that lead to cholecystitis.


Risk factors

The main risk factor for developing cholecystitis is having gallstones.



Cholecystitis can lead to a number of serious complications, including:

  • Infection within the gallbladder,
  • Death of gallbladder tissue,
  • Torn gallbladder.



Hospitalization is required to stabilize the gallbladder inflammation with possible surgery. The  activities to control the signs and symptoms and the inflammation in the gallbladder may include restricted food, antibiotics to fight the infection and pain medications. In most cases the symptoms subside in a day or two.

Because cholecystitis frequently recurs, most people with the condition eventually require gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy). The timing of surgery will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the overall risk of problems during and after surgery. Cholecystectomy is most commonly performed using a tiny video camera mounted at the end of a flexible tube. This allows the surgeon to see inside the abdomen and to use special surgical tools to remove the gallbladder (laparoscopic cholecystectomy).

When the gallbladder is removed, bile flows directly from the liver into the small intestine, rather than being stored in the gallbladder. A human being does not need the gallbladder to live normally.



You can reduce the risk of cholecystitis by taking the following steps to prevent gallstones:

  • Choose a healthy diet. To reduce the risk of gallstones, choose a diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Diets high in fat and low in fiber may increase the risk of gallstones.
  • Lose weight slowly. Rapid weight loss can increase the risk of gallstones.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increase the risk of gallstones. To achieve a healthy weight, reduce calories and increase the physical activity. Maintain a healthy weight by continuing to eat well and exercise.