ExitCare ImageCholecystitis is an inflammation of your gallbladder. It is usually caused by a buildup of gallstones or sludge (cholelithiasis) in your gallbladder. The gallbladder stores a fluid that helps digest fats (bile). Cholecystitis is serious and needs treatment right away.


  • Gallstones. Gallstones can block the tube that leads to your gallbladder, causing bile to build up. As bile builds up, the gallbladder becomes inflamed.

  • Bile duct problems, such as blockage from scarring or kinking.

  • Tumors. Tumors can stop bile from leaving your gallbladder correctly, causing bile to build up. As bile builds up, the gallbladder becomes inflamed.


  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

  • Abdominal pain, especially in the upper right area of your abdomen.

  • Abdominal tenderness or bloating.

  • Sweating.

  • Chills.

  • Fever.

  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice).


Your caregiver may order blood tests to look for infection or gallbladder problems. Your caregiver may also order imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan. Further tests may include a hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan. This scan allows your caregiver to see your bile move from the liver to the gallbladder and to the small intestine.


A hospital stay is usually necessary to lessen the inflammation of your gallbladder. You may be required to not eat or drink (fast) for a certain amount of time. You may be given medicine to treat pain or an antibiotic medicine to treat an infection. Surgery may be needed to remove your gallbladder (cholecystectomy) once the inflammation has gone down. Surgery may be needed right away if you develop complications such as death of gallbladder tissue (gangrene) or a tear (perforation) of the gallbladder.


Home care will depend on your treatment. In general:

  • If you were given antibiotics, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • Follow a low-fat diet until you see your caregiver again.

  • Keep all follow-up visits as directed by your caregiver.


  • Your pain is increasing and not controlled by medicines.

  • Your pain moves to another part of your abdomen or to your back.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have nausea and vomiting.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.