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St. George Obesity & General Surgery

Cholecystitis

Cholecystitis is a medical condition referring to inflammation of the gallbladder. The condition can be chronic (on-going) or acute (sudden).

Most cases of Cholecystitis are caused from gallstones. Gallstones are crystalline structures in the gallbladder or the bile ducts, usually ranging in size from a grain of sand to 3-4 centimetres. When gallstones are present, they can interfere with the normal flow of bile leading to gallbladder inflammation

Rarely, cholecystitis occurs without the presence of gallstones. This type of acute cholecystitis is referred to as acalculous cholecystitis. It is a more serious form of cholecystitis and tends to occur after injury to the gallbladder from surgery, prolonged fasting, critical illnesses, or when a problem with the immune system occurs.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary but will often occur after eating fatty meals and may occur during the night, suddenly awakening the patient. Common complaints include:

Causes of Cholecystitis

The majority of cases of Cholecystitis are caused by gallstones. Other less common causes can include:

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of developing a condition or disease.

The following risk factors increase your chance of developing gallstones and therefore also increase your risk of Cholecystitis:

Diagnosis

Your physician will perform the following:

Tests your doctor may order to confirm a diagnosis of cholecystitis may include the following:

Treatment

The most common treatment for cholecystitis is surgery called laparoscopic cholecystectomy. This is a less invasive surgery than the traditional method of a large abdominal incision to remove the gallbladder.

With the laparoscopic operation, the surgeon makes several tiny incisions in the abdomen and inserts surgical instruments and a miniature video camera into the abdomen. The camera sends a magnified image from inside the body to a video monitor, giving the surgeon a close up view of the organs and tissues. Laparoscopic surgery leads to fewer complications, such as hospital-related infections, and has a shorter recovery time.

If tests show the gallbladder has severe inflammation, infection, or scarring from other operations, the surgeon may perform open surgery to remove the gallbladder. In some cases, open surgery is planned; however, sometimes these problems are discovered during the laparoscopy and the surgeon must make a larger incision converting to open surgery.

Recovery from open surgery usually requires 3 to 5 days in the hospital and several weeks at home. Open surgery is necessary for about 5 percent of gallbladder operations.

Benefits of Laparoscopy versus Traditional (Open) Surgery: