Treatment for cholecystitis usually involves a hospital stay to stabilize the gallbladder inflammation and possible surgery.
If you're diagnosed with cholecystitis, you'll likely be hospitalized. Your doctor will work to control your signs and symptoms and to control the inflammation in your gallbladder. Treatments may include:
- Fasting. You may not be allowed to eat or drink at first in order to take stress off your inflamed gallbladder. So that you don't become dehydrated, you may receive fluids through a vein in your arm.
- Antibiotics to fight infection. If your gallbladder is infected, your doctor likely will recommend antibiotics.
- Pain medications. These can help control pain until the inflammation in your gallbladder is relieved.
Your symptoms are likely to subside in a day or two.
Surgery to remove the gallbladder
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 your symptoms and your overall risk of problems during and after surgery. If you're at low surgical risk, you may have surgery within 48 hours or during your hospital stay.
Cholecystectomy is most commonly performed using a tiny video camera mounted at the end of a flexible tube. This allows your surgeon to see inside your abdomen and to use special surgical tools to remove the gallbladder (laparoscopic cholecystectomy). The tools and camera are inserted through four incisions in your abdomen, and the surgeon watches a monitor during surgery to guide the tools. An open procedure, in which a long incision is made in your abdomen, is rarely required.
A less invasive way to remove gallbladders is under study. Known as natural orifice transluminal endoscopic surgery (NOTES), the procedure is intended to lessen scarring and discomfort. While laparaoscopic cholecystectomy remains the standard of care for gallbladder removal, NOTES is being performed in a few centers worldwide and may eventually be an important alternative.
Once your gallbladder is removed, bile flows directly from your liver into your small intestine, rather than being stored in your gallbladder. You don't need your gallbladder to live normally.
Aug. 28, 2014
- Zakko SF, et al. Acute cholecystitis: Pathogenesis, clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2014.
- Vollmer CM, et al. Treatment of acute calculous cholecystitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 1, 2014.
- Acute cholecystitis: Gallbladder and bile duct disease. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic_and_biliary_disorders/gallbladder_and_bile_duct_disorders/acute_cholecystitis.html?qt=cholecystitis&alt=sh 2011. Accessed July 2, 2014.
- Gallstones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/gallstones/index.aspx. Accessed July 1, 2014.
- Malladi P, et al. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 2, 2014.