Normal anatomy

Figure 1. Normal anatomy

What is cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is the inflammation (swelling) of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is located towards the upper right abdominal region. It stores bile, which is responsible for breaking down the body’s fats.

How common is cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is not uncommon. About 10% to 20% of Americans have gallstones, and about half of those will develop cholecystitis.

What causes cholecystitis?

Cholecystitis is caused by gallstones blocking the entrance of the gallbladder. This causes the bile to build up and the gallbladder to become inflamed. Cholecystitis can cause serious abdominal pain.

What are the symptoms of cholecystitis?

You should consult a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent pain in the upper right abdominal region.
  • Abdominal pain that extends to the right shoulder and back.
  • Symptoms that do not get better when you take over-the-counter pain relievers, change the position of your body, or release gas.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Bloating.
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/21/2016.


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