When the gallbladder is inflamed, it is called cholecystitis. The gallbladder is a small pouch, pear-shaped organ located beneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen that contains bile, a digestive fluid, before released into the small intestine.

In most cases, the gallstone blocks the cystic duct (the tube that connect gallbladder to bile duct) resulting in inflammation and infection of the gallbladder. Additionally, bile duct problem, tumors, major illnesses, and specific infections are causes of cholecystitis.

Untreated cholecystitis can cause serious, life-threatening complications, such a ruptured gallbladder. The recommended treatment for acute cholecystitis is a surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy).


The following symptoms may be manifested when you have cholecystitis:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain radiating to the back or right shoulder
  • Intense pain on the upper right side or center of the abdomen
  • Abdominal pain after eating around 15 to 20 minutes and it continues
  • Jaundice (skin, whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes turn yellow)

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to consult your doctor immediately.


When your gallbladder is inflamed, it leads to cholecystitis. Inflammation of the gallbladder may result from:

  • Gallstones. The most common cause of cholecystitis is gallstones. The duct (cystic duct) by which bile exits the gallbladder can become blocked by gallstones. Inflammation results from the gallbladder’s bile accumulation.
  • Bile duct blockage. Cholecystitis can be caused by bile duct blockage brought on by stones, thickened bile, or small particles (sludge). A blockage may also result from the bile ducts becoming scarred.
  • Tumor. Inadequate drainage of bile from your gallbladder such as having a tumor could cause cholecystitis.
  • Severe illness. Cholecystitis can result from severe illness that damages blood vessels and reduces blood supply to the gallbladder.
  • Infection. Patient with AIDS, who have not received HIV treatment, are at risk for cholecystitis.

Risk factors

The risk factor for cholecystitis is having gallstones as well as the following factors:

  • Under birth control pills or treatment to replace estrogen levels
  • Native Hispanic descent, American, or Scandinavian
  • Pregnant or have had multiple pregnancies
  • Consuming a high fat and cholesterol food
  • Your family has a history of gallstones
  • 60 years old or older (male or female)
  • 50 years old or older woman
  • Eat a diet high in fat and cholesterol
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Obesity or overweight
  • Diabetes