Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment for cholecystitis usually involves a stay in the hospital to stabilize the inflammation in your gallbladder. Once your cholecystitis is under control, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove your gallbladder, since cholecystitis frequently recurs. In emergency situations, such as a ruptured gallbladder, surgery may be required right away.

Hospitalization

If you're diagnosed with cholecystitis, you'll be admitted to the hospital. 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 cholecystitis is caused by an infection or has caused an infection in your gallbladder, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to treat the infection.
  • Pain medications. You may receive pain medications to help control pain until the inflammation in your gallbladder is relieved.

Your symptoms may begin to go away in a day or two after being hospitalized.

Surgery to remove the gallbladder

Because cholecystitis frequently recurs, most people diagnosed with cholecystitis eventually require gallbladder removal surgery (cholecystectomy). When you're feeling better, your doctor may recommend cholecystectomy. When you'll undergo surgery depends on your situation. If you have complications of cholecystitis, such as gangrene or perforation of your gallbladder, you may need to have surgery immediately.

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 while guiding the tools during surgery.

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, and gallbladder removal doesn't affect your ability to digest food, although it can cause diarrhea that is usually temporary.

Sep. 01, 2011