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Cholecystitis is inflammation of your gallbladder. Your gallbladder stores bile, which helps break down the fat that you eat. It also helps remove certain chemicals from your body. You may have a sudden, severe attack (acute cholecystitis) or several mild attacks (chronic cholecystitis).


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output:

You may not be allowed to eat anything before your surgery. You will be given liquids through your IV tube. Your healthcare provider will monitor the amount of liquids you get and how much you urinate. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to measure or collect your urine before you dispose of it.

Nasogastric (NG) tube:

An NG tube is put into your nose, and passes down your throat until it reaches your stomach. Food and medicine may be given through an NG tube if you cannot take anything by mouth. The tube may instead be attached to suction if caregivers need to keep your stomach empty.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps treat an infection in your gallbladder.
  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give you medicine to take away or decrease your pain.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe to ask for your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease. The medicine may not work as well at controlling your pain if you wait too long to take it.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling a caregiver when you want to get out of bed or if you need help.


  • Blood and bile cultures: A sample of your blood and bile may be tested to see if abnormal cells grow in it. These culture tests will help your healthcare provider learn more about your condition.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: This test is done so caregivers can see the tissues and organs of your abdomen. Gel will be put on your abdomen and a small sensor will be moved across your abdomen. The sensor uses sound waves to send pictures of your abdomen to a TV-like screen.
  • CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. The pictures help your healthcare provider see if you have gallstones or if your gallbladder is larger than usual. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken. The dye may help your healthcare providers see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (crab, lobster, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell the healthcare provider if you are allergic to shellfish, or have other allergies or medical conditions.
  • A liver and gallbladder scan , or HIDA scan, takes pictures of your liver and gallbladder. You may be given contrast liquid to help the pictures show up better. Tell a healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your gallbladder. This will help your healthcare provider see if your gallbladder is too big or if the outside is thicker than usual. You may be given dye before the test. Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to dye, iodine, or seafood. Remove all jewelry, and tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you cannot lie still or are afraid of closed spaces.


Your treatment may depend on whether your cholecystitis is mild, moderate, or severe.

  • Cholecystostomy: You may need to have you gallbladder drained. A hollow needle will be put into your gallbladder through the wall of your abdomen. The bile in your gallbladder will be drained through this needle. You may also have a tube inserted in your gallbladder to drain it over several days or weeks.
  • Cholecystectomy: This is surgery to remove your gallbladder. During a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, small incisions are made in your abdomen. A small scope and special tools are inserted through these incisions. A scope is a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end. You may need an open cholecystectomy. This is when a single, larger incision is made to remove your gallbladder and clean out your abdomen.


  • During a laparoscopic surgery, your healthcare provider may need to switch to an open surgery. You may get an infection. Blood clots may form in your blood vessels. Surgery may damage blood vessels, tissues, and nearby organs. Air may enter your abdomen. Bile may leak into other organs. You may need another surgery to fix these problems. Surgery may also cause problems in your lungs, heart, or bowels. You may also bleed too much. These problems can be life-threatening.
  • Without treatment, an abnormal opening may form from your gallbladder to your bowel. A gallstone may pass through this opening and cause your bowel to become blocked. Your gallbladder may burst. You may get an infection and an abscess (pus pocket) may form around your gallbladder. You may develop problems in your other organs, such as your heart, pancreas, and lungs. may get cholecystitis again. Without treatment, you can become very sick and this can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Learn more about Cholecystitis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.