Your gallbladder is a small organ that is located in the upper right portion of your abdomen, just below the liver. Its primary purpose is to store and concentrate bile, a liquid that carries toxins away from the liver via bile ducts, and into the gallbladder. The bile is then released into the small intestine, where it helps fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be absorbed into your bloodstream. The more concentrated the bile is, the more effective it is at digesting fat. While the function of the gallbladder is helpful, it is not essential, and can be removed without affecting your ability to properly digest food.
Acute cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder, is caused by either calculous cholecystitis or acalculous cholecystitis. It is not a condition that will naturally run its course, but is potentially serious and needs to be treated.
Calculous cholecystitis is the most common type of acute cholecystitis, accounting for nearly 95 percent of cases. It develops when the cystic duct, which is the main opening of the gallbladder, becomes blocked – either by a gallstone (hardened cholesterol deposits) or a mixture of bile, salt crystals and cholesterol that form what is known as biliary sludge. The blockage causes a buildup of bile in the gallbladder, which then causes inflammation, resulting in infection and pain. Chronic inflammation in the gallbladder can eventually damage it enough so that it no longer functions correctly and needs to be removed.
Acalculous cholecystitis is less common, but often more serious than calculous cholecystitis. It develops as a complication of a serious injury, infection or illness, and is usually caused by damage to the gallbladder during surgery, sepsis (blood poisoning), severe malnutrition, or serious injuries.
The most frequent symptom of acute cholecystitis is a sudden sharp pain where your gallbladder is located – the upper right-hand side of your abdomen – spreading up to your right shoulder. This area may be extremely tender, and even breathing deeply can worsen the pain. You may also experience:
The pain of acute cholecystitis is persistent, and does not go away with time, so you should contact your doctor immediately if you develop severe and sudden abdominal pain and it either lasts more than a few hours or you experience other symptoms along with it. Serious complications can occur if acute cholecystitis is not diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
If your main symptom is severe, persistent abdominal pain, your doctor may conduct a test known as Murphy’s sign. Your doctor will press on your abdomen, just below your rib cage, and ask you to breathe in deeply. As you breathe in, your gallbladder will move downwards, and if you feel a sudden pain when it reaches your doctor’s hand, you have cholecystitis. Further tests to diagnose acute cholecystitis may include:
Once you are diagnosed with acute cholecystitis, you will most likely need to be admitted to the hospital to undergo treatment.
Once you’re admitted into the hospital, initial treatment of acute cholecystitis will usually include:
Once you’ve completed your initial treatment, the gallstones that may have caused your acute cholecystitis typically fall out of the duct and back into the gallbladder, and the inflammation will gradually lessen.
After your initial treatment, some patients may need surgery to remove their gallbladder, in order to prevent recurring acute cholecystitis episodes. This is known as a cholecystectomy, and reduces your risk of developing any potentially serious complications. If surgery isn’t the right option for you, your doctor may recommend a cholecystostomy, a procedure where a tube is inserted into your gallbladder to drain the fluid buildup.
Depending on your specific case, you may undergo surgery immediately, or your doctor may choose to wait until the inflammation has receded.
If left untreated, acute cholecystitis could result in complications that are potentially life-threatening, including:
These complications may occur in about 20 percent of patients with acute cholecystitis, and can only be treated with emergency gallbladder removal surgery.
If you are experiencing sudden, persistent abdominal pain, or any other symptoms related to acute cholecystitis, it is vital that you get immediate treatment to prevent further complications. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 and schedule an appointment with one of our interventional radiologists.
This is for Dr. Pfister. I just wanted to thank him for all the time he spent with us the other week. In all the years I’ve had my vascular problems I’ve never had a doctor really sit down and explain to me the intricacies of what might be going on. I have a lot to think about…but just wanted to say thanks for being so nice and answering our many questions!L.H.
A fantastic group of wonderful people. The procedure was very smooth. When they were putting the port in I felt like I was getting a great massage!! Thank you all!S.C.
Charley was instrumental in getting me scheduled in quickly to get my PICC line removed. She actually worked until late in the day to get the information from my referring doctor’s office. It is nice to know great people like Charley still exist in this world!K.S.
I had my blood clot filter removed on 2/21/18. I was very apprehensive, yet EVERYONE in Dr. Pfister’s office and surgical team helped to make me comfortable. I am extremely claustrophobic so laying down or having something covering my face creates anxiety. Mary Anne listened to my concerns and made sure I was made comfortable and did not feel anxious. The surgical team was amazing, they explained everything thoroughly. Dr. Pfister came in after the procedure to review what he did and discuss any follow up that might be required. I so appreciate the time and attention he gives me as his patient. This was a positive experience.G.H.
110% Thank You! Best unit so far in my cancer treatment. Thanks Dr. LoveAnonymous
If you ever need an Interventional Radiologist for a child I realize it is serious business. I’ve seen Dr. Love go and save a child’s kidney without missing a beat. I could recommend no one better for myself, or for people I love. I think he is a little cool at the bedside, but that’s OK Dr. Love, stay frosty! If you can’t see Dr. Love, one of the other professionals at IVC will be able to help you. Ashley, the dynamite scheduler and one of the other surgeons at IVC will care for you. I’ve had multiple surgeries with this practice over the past several years. Never a hiccup!S. R. – Portland, OR
Great experience, doctor was thorough in explaining what was going to happen. The nurses were very attentive and made sure I was comfortable and my needs were met. I would recommend this office for any related procedure.Anonymous
Everything went very smoothly. Joe enjoyed the music. Very friendly staff! Good Experience!J. & E.
All staff was courteous and efficient. Good experience.J. J.
Dr. Pfister, thanks so much for your excellent care, removing my chemo port earlier this week. With all your experience and your fine touch, I’m confident the scar will be nearly invisible. Your team, from beginning to end, did a super job with me. Please extend my gratitude to Jennifer, Mary Anne, Todd and Charley. I’ve got a whole lot of living left to do. I appreciate all of you helping me do it!M. F.
Dr. Pfister, thank you for all of the attention you gave to me. I learned lots from our discussion – hearing you speak of ultimate healing was enough to encourage me to do all I can to strengthen those muscles.S. O.
The entire office is one of the most professional, helpful and informative medical offices I have dealt with (and I have dealt with many). Kudos to Jennifer, Henry, and Charley!K. C.
Great people. Great place. Good surgery.G. G.
Patty, Mary Anne and the whole staff was amazing! Best experience I’ve had since being diagnosed with cancer. From start to finish, was great. Thanks.M
My brother came into Legacy Meridian Park, had a stroke. Dr. Bauer came in immediately, in his work jeans and shirt. He worked with Neurologist Dr. Burbank, developed a plan and took my brother into a procedure where they removed the clot from his head! Very down to earth doctor, explained procedure to family, worked with sense of urgency.J. P.
I want to comment regarding Dr. Bauer of how he was thorough explaining my CT Biopsy and showing me how on the computer he would get the tissue needed. In all the years of several surgeries I have never felt better going in to have a procedure done. His bedside manner was incredible. I wish all doctors were like Dr. Bauer. Thank you for preparing and relaxing me prior to the biopsy.R.S. Molalla OR
Everyone did a superb job taking care of me and doing the procedure. Thank You AllK.S.
Dr. Bauer genuinely cares about his patients and strives to make sure they understand every aspect of their treatment.A. L.
Dr. Bauer, our family wants you to know how thankful we are to you for saving G.P.’s life and bringing him back to us in normal health. Thank you over and over you are the best!Family of G. P.