Cholecystitis 

Updated: May 20, 2021
Author: Alan A Bloom, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD 

Overview

Practice Essentials

Cholecystitis is inflammation of the gallbladder that occurs most commonly because of an obstruction of the cystic duct by gallstones arising from the gallbladder (cholelithiasis). Uncomplicated cholecystitis has an excellent prognosis; the development of complications such as perforation or gangrene renders the prognosis less favorable.

Signs and symptoms

The most common presenting symptom of acute cholecystitis is upper abdominal pain. The following characteristics may be reported:

  • Signs of peritoneal irritation may be present, and the pain may radiate to the right shoulder or scapula

  • Pain frequently begins in the epigastric region and then localizes to the right upper quadrant (RUQ)

  • Pain may initially be colicky but almost always becomes constant

  • Nausea and vomiting are generally present, and fever may be noted

Patients with acalculous cholecystitis may present with fever and sepsis alone, without the history or physical examination findings consistent with acute cholecystitis.

Cholecystitis may present differently in special populations, as follows:

  • Elderly (especially diabetics) – May present with vague symptoms and without many key historical and physical findings (eg, pain and fever), with localized tenderness the only presenting sign; may progress to complicated cholecystitis rapidly and without warning

  • Children – May present without many of the classic findings; those at higher risk for cholecystitis include patients with sickle cell disease, serious illness, a requirement for prolonged total parenteral nutrition (TPN), hemolytic conditions, or congenital and biliary anomalies

The physical examination may reveal the following:

  • Fever, tachycardia, and tenderness in the RUQ or epigastric region, often with guarding or rebound

  • Palpable gallbladder or fullness of the RUQ (30%-40% of patients)

  • Jaundice (~15% of patients)

The absence of physical findings does not rule out the diagnosis of cholecystitis.

See Presentation for more detail.

Diagnosis

Laboratory tests are not always reliable, but the following findings may be diagnostically useful:

  • Leukocytosis with a left shift may be observed

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels may be elevated in cholecystitis or with common bile duct (CBD) obstruction

  • Bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase assays may reveal evidence of CBD obstruction

  • Amylase/lipase assays are used to assess for pancreatitis; amylase may also be mildly elevated in cholecystitis

  • Alkaline phosphatase level may be elevated (25% of patients with cholecystitis)

  • Urinalysis is used to rule out pyelonephritis and renal calculi

  • All females of childbearing age should undergo pregnancy testing

Diagnostic imaging modalities that may be considered include the following:

  • Plain X-ray of the abdomen

  • Ultrasonography

  • Computed tomography (CT)

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

  • Hepatobiliary scintigraphy (see the image below)

    Cholecystitis. Abnormal finding on hepatoiminodiac Cholecystitis. Abnormal finding on hepatoiminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)

The American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria offer the following imaging recommendations[1] :

  • Ultrasonography is the preferred initial imaging test for the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis; scintigraphy is the preferred alternative.

  • CT is a secondary imaging test that can identify extrabiliary disorders and complications of acute cholecystitis.

  • CT with intravenous (IV) contrast is useful in diagnosing acute cholecystitis in patients with nonspecific abdominal pain.

  • MRI, often with IV gadolinium-based contrast medium, is also a possible secondary choice for confirming a diagnosis of acute cholecystitis.

  • MRI without contrast is useful for eliminating radiation exposure in pregnant women when ultrasonography has not yielded a clear diagnosis.

  • Contrast agents should not be used in patients on dialysis unless absolutely necessary.

See Workup for more detail.

Management

Treatment of cholecystitis depends on the severity of the condition and the presence or absence of complications.

In acute cholecystitis, the initial treatment includes bowel rest, IV hydration, correction of electrolyte abnormalities, analgesia, and IV antibiotics. Options include the following:

  • Sanford guide – Piperacillin-tazobactam, ampicillin-sulbactam, or meropenem; in severe life-threatening cases, imipenem-cilastatin

  • Alternative regimens – Third-generation cephalosporin plus metronidazole

  • Emesis can be treated with antiemetics and nasogastric suction

  • Because of the rapid progression of acute acalculous cholecystitis to gangrene and perforation, early recognition and intervention are required.

  • Supportive medical care should include restoration of hemodynamic stability and antibiotic coverage for gram-negative enteric flora and anaerobes if biliary tract infection is suspected.

  • Daily stimulation of gallbladder contraction with IV cholecystokinin (CCK) may help prevent formation of gallbladder sludge in patients receiving TPN

In cases of uncomplicated cholecystitis, outpatient treatment may be appropriate. The following medications may be useful in this setting:

  • Levofloxacin and metronidazole for prophylactic antibiotic coverage against the most common organisms

  • Antiemetics (eg, promethazine or prochlorperazine) to control nausea and prevent fluid and electrolyte disorders

  • Analgesics (eg, oxycodone/acetaminophen)

Surgical and interventional procedures used to treat cholecystitis include the following:

  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy (standard of care for surgical treatment of cholecystitis)

  • Percutaneous drainage

  • ERCP

  • Endoscopic ultrasound-guided transmural cholecystostomy

  • Endoscopic gallbladder drainage

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.

Background

Cholecystitis is defined as an inflammation of the gallbladder that occurs most commonly because of an obstruction of the cystic duct from cholelithiasis. Ninety percent of cases involve stones in the gallbladder (ie, calculous cholecystitis), with the other 10% of cases representing acalculous cholecystitis.[2]

Risk factors for cholecystitis mirror those for cholelithiasis and include increasing age, female sex, certain ethnic groups, obesity or rapid weight loss, drugs, and pregnancy. Although bile cultures are positive for bacteria in 50%-75% of cases, bacterial proliferation may be a result of cholecystitis and not the precipitating factor.

Acalculous cholecystitis is related to conditions associated with biliary stasis, including debilitation, major surgery, severe trauma, sepsis, long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and prolonged fasting. Other causes of acalculous cholecystitis include cardiac events; sickle cell disease; Salmonella infections; diabetes mellitus; and cytomegalovirus, cryptosporidiosis, or microsporidiosis infections in patients with AIDS. (See Etiology.) For more information, see the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article Acalculous Cholecystopathy.

Uncomplicated cholecystitis has an excellent prognosis, with a very low mortality rate. Once complications such as perforation/gangrene develop, the prognosis becomes less favorable. Some 25%-30% of patients either require surgery or develop some complication. (See Prognosis.)

The most common presenting symptom of acute cholecystitis is upper abdominal pain. The physical examination may reveal fever, tachycardia, and tenderness in the RUQ or epigastric region, often with guarding or rebound. However, the absence of physical findings does not rule out the diagnosis of cholecystitis. (See Presentation.)

Delays in making the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis result in a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality. This is especially true for ICU patients who develop acalculous cholecystitis. The diagnosis should be considered and investigated promptly in order to prevent poor outcomes. (See Diagnosis.)

Initial treatment of acute cholecystitis includes bowel rest, intravenous hydration, correction of electrolyte abnormalities, analgesia, and intravenous antibiotics. For mild cases of acute cholecystitis, antibiotic therapy with a single broad-spectrum antibiotic is adequate. Outpatient treatment may be appropriate for uncomplicated cholecystitis. If surgical treatment is indicated, laparoscopic cholecystectomy represents the standard of care. (See Treatment.)

Patients diagnosed with cholecystitis must be educated regarding causes of their disease, complications if left untreated, and medical/surgical options to treat cholecystitis. For patient education information, see the Digestive Disorders Center, as well as Gallstones and Pancreatitis.

For further clinical information, see the Medscape Drugs & Diseases topic Acute Cholecystitis and Biliary Colic.

Pathophysiology

Ninety percent of cases of cholecystitis involve stones in the gallbladder (ie, calculous cholecystitis), with the other 10% of cases representing acalculous cholecystitis.[2]

Acute calculous cholecystitis is caused by an obstruction of the cystic duct, leading to distention of the gallbladder. As the gallbladder becomes distended, blood flow and lymphatic drainage are compromised, leading to mucosal ischemia and necrosis.

Although the exact mechanism of acalculous cholecystitis is unclear, several theories exist. Injury may be the result of retained concentrated bile, an extremely noxious substance. In the presence of prolonged fasting, the gallbladder does not receive a cholecystokinin (CCK) stimulus to empty; thus, the concentrated bile remains stagnant in the lumen.[3, 4]

A study by Cullen et al demonstrated the ability of endotoxins to cause necrosis, hemorrhage, areas of fibrin deposition, and extensive mucosal loss, consistent with an acute ischemic insult.[5] Endotoxins also abolish the contractile response to CCK, leading to gallbladder stasis.

Etiology

Risk factors for calculous cholecystitis mirror those for cholelithiasis and include the following:

  • Female sex

  • Certain ethnic groups

  • Obesity or rapid weight loss

  • Drugs (especially hormonal therapy in women)

  • Pregnancy

  • Increasing age

Acalculous cholecystitis is related to conditions associated with biliary stasis, and include the following:

  • Critical illness

  • Major surgery or severe trauma/burns

  • Sepsis

  • Long-term total parenteral nutrition (TPN)

  • Prolonged fasting

Other causes of acalculous cholecystitis include the following:

  • Cardiac events, including myocardial infarction

  • Sickle cell disease

  • Salmonella infections

  • Diabetes mellitus[6]

  • Patients with AIDS who have cytomegalovirus, cryptosporidiosis, or microsporidiosis

Patients who are immunocompromised are at an increased risk of developing cholecystitis from a number of different infectious sources. Idiopathic cases exist.

Epidemiology

An estimated 10%-20% of Americans have gallstones, and as many as one third of these people develop acute cholecystitis. Cholecystectomy for either recurrent biliary colic or acute cholecystitis is the most common major surgical procedure performed by general surgeons, resulting in approximately 500,000 operations annually.

Age distribution for cholecystitis

The incidence of cholecystitis increases with age. The physiologic explanation for the increasing incidence of gallstone disease in the elderly population is unclear. The increased incidence in elderly men has been linked to age-related changes in the androgen-to-estrogen ratios.

See Pediatric Cholecystitis for more complete information on this topic.

Sex distribution for cholecystitis

Gallstones are 2-3 times more frequent in females than in males, resulting in a higher incidence of calculous cholecystitis in females. Elevated progesterone levels during pregnancy may cause biliary stasis, resulting in higher rates of gallbladder disease in pregnant females. Acalculous cholecystitis is observed more often in elderly men.

Prevalence of cholecystitis by race and ethnicity

Cholelithiasis, the major risk factor for cholecystitis, has an increased prevalence in people of Scandinavian descent, Pima Indians, and Hispanic populations, whereas cholelithiasis is less common among individuals from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.[7, 8] In the United States, white people have a higher prevalence than black people.

Prognosis

Uncomplicated cholecystitis has an excellent prognosis, with a very low mortality. Most patients with acute cholecystitis have a complete remission within 1-4 days. However, 25%-30% of patients either require surgery or develop some complication.

Once complications such as perforation/gangrene develop, the prognosis becomes less favorable. Perforation occurs in 10%-15% of cases. Patients with acalculous cholecystitis have a mortality ranging from 10%-50%, which far exceeds the expected 4% mortality observed in patients with calculous cholecystitis. In patients who are critically ill with acalculous cholecystitis and perforation or gangrene, mortality can be as high as 50%-60%.

The severity of acute cholecystitis also has an impact on the risk of iatrogenic bile duct injury during cholecystectomy.[9] Tornqvist et al reported a doubling of the risk for sustaining biliary damage in patients with ongoing acute cholecystitis compared to those without acute cholecystitis. Patients with Tokyo grade II (moderate) acute cholecystitis and those with Tokyo grade III (severe) cholecystitis had, respectively, over double and more than eight times the risk of bile duct injury compared to those without acute cholecystitis. The risk of biliary injury was reduced by 52% with the intention to use intraoperative cholangiography.[9]

Complications

Bacterial proliferation within the obstructed gallbladder results in empyema of the organ. Patients with empyema may have a toxic reaction and may have more marked fever and leukocytosis.[10, 11]  The presence of empyema frequently requires conversion from laparoscopic to open cholecystectomy.[12]

In rare instances, a large gallstone may erode through the gallbladder wall into an adjacent viscus, usually the duodenum. Subsequently, the stone may become impacted in the terminal ileum or, less frequently, in the duodenal bulb and/or pylorus, causing gallstone ileus.[13]

Emphysematous cholecystitis occurs in approximately 1% of cases and is noted by the presence of gas in the gallbladder wall from the invasion of gas-producing organisms, such as Escherichia coli, Clostridia perfringens, and Klebsiella species. This complication is more common in patients with diabetes, has a male predominance, and is acalculous in 28% of cases. Because of a high incidence of gangrene and perforation, emergency cholecystectomy is recommended. Perforation occurs in up to 15% of patients.[11, 14]  For more information, see the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article Emphysematous Cholecystitis.

Other complications include sepsis and pancreatitis.[15]

 

Presentation

History

The most common presenting symptom of acute cholecystitis is upper abdominal pain. Signs of peritoneal irritation may be present, and in some patients, the pain may radiate to the right shoulder or scapula. Frequently, the pain begins in the epigastric region and then localizes to the right upper quadrant (RUQ). Although the pain may initially be described as colicky, it becomes constant in virtually all cases. Nausea and vomiting are generally present, and patients may report fever.

Most patients with acute cholecystitis describe a history of biliary pain. Some patients may have documented gallstones. Acalculous biliary colic also occurs, most commonly in young to middle-aged females. The presentation is almost identical to calculous biliary colic with the exception of reference range laboratory values and no findings of cholelithiasis on ultrasound. Cholecystitis is differentiated from biliary colic by the persistence of constant severe pain for more than 6 hours.

Patients with acalculous cholecystitis may present similarly to patients with calculous cholecystitis, but acalculous cholecystitis frequently occurs suddenly in severely ill patients without a prior history of biliary colic. Often, patients with acalculous cholecystitis may present with fever and sepsis alone, without a history or physical examination findings consistent with acute cholecystitis.

Cholecystitis in elderly persons

Elderly patients (especially patients with diabetes) may present with vague symptoms and without many key historical and physical findings. Pain and fever may be absent, and localized tenderness may be the only presenting sign. Elderly patients may also progress to complicated cholecystitis rapidly and without warning.

Cholecystitis in children

The pediatric population may also present without many of the classic findings. Children who are at a higher risk for developing cholecystitis include patients with sickle cell disease, seriously ill children, those on prolonged TPN, those with hemolytic conditions, and those with congenital and biliary anomalies.[16] For more information, see the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article Pediatric Cholecystitis.

Physical Examination

The physical examination may reveal fever, tachycardia, and tenderness in the RUQ or the epigastric region, often with guarding or rebound. The Murphy sign, which is specific but not sensitive for cholecystitis, is described as tenderness and an inspiratory pause elicited during palpation of the RUQ. A palpable gallbladder or fullness of the RUQ is present in 30%-40% of cases. Jaundice may be noted in approximately 15% of patients.

The absence of physical findings does not rule out the diagnosis of cholecystitis. Many patients present with diffuse epigastric pain without localization to the RUQ. Patients with chronic cholecystitis frequently do not have a palpable RUQ mass secondary to fibrosis involving the gallbladder.

Elderly patients and patients with diabetes frequently have atypical presentations, including the absence of fever and localized tenderness with only vague symptoms.

 

DDx

Diagnostic Considerations

Delay in making the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis result in a higher incidence of morbidity and mortality. This is especially true for intensive care unit (ICU) patients who may develop acalculous cholecystitis. The diagnosis should be considered and investigated promptly in order to prevent poor outcomes.

On rare occasions, acute cholecystitis may coexist with or be misdiagnosed as a cardiovascular disorder.[17]

Pregnant patients

Right upper quadrant pain in pregnancy can be related to a number of different diagnoses, including preeclampsia, appendicitis, and cholelithiasis. Pregnant patients must have a thorough examination because complications can arise quickly and can be life threatening to both the mother and the unborn child.[18, 19]

Differential Diagnoses

 

Workup

Approach Considerations

The workup for cholecystitis includes history and physical examination, laboratory tests (though these are not always reliable), plain x-ray of the abdomen, ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS), and endoscopy.

Imaging recommendations

The American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria offer the following imaging recommendations[1] :

  • Ultrasonography is the preferred initial imaging test for the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis; scintigraphy is the preferred alternative.

  • CT is a secondary imaging test that can identify extrabiliary disorders and complications of acute cholecystitis.

  • CT with intravenous (IV) contrast is useful in diagnosing acute cholecystitis in patients with nonspecific abdominal pain.

  • MRI, often with IV gadolinium-based contrast medium, is also a possible secondary choice for confirming a diagnosis of acute cholecystitis.

  • MRI without contrast is useful for eliminating radiation exposure in pregnant women when ultrasonography has not yielded a clear diagnosis.

  • Contrast agents should not be used in patients on dialysis unless absolutely necessary.

Laboratory Tests

Although the laboratory criteria are not reliable in identifying all patients with cholecystitis, the following findings may be useful in arriving at the diagnosis:

  • Leukocytosis with a left shift may be observed in cholecystitis.

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels are used to evaluate for the presence of hepatitis and may be elevated in cholecystitis or with common bile duct obstruction.

  • Bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase assays are used to evaluate for the presence of common bile duct obstruction.

  • Amylase/lipase assays are used to evaluate for the presence of pancreatitis. Amylase may also be elevated mildly in cholecystitis.

  • An elevated alkaline phosphatase level is observed in 25% of patients with cholecystitis.

  • Urinalysis is used to rule out pyelonephritis and renal calculi.

  • All females of childbearing age should undergo pregnancy testing.

A retrospective study by Singer et al, aimed at determining a set of clinical and laboratory parameters that could be used to predict the outcome of hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) in patients with suspected acute cholecystitis, found that of the 40 patients with pathologically confirmed acute cholecystitis, 36 (90%) did not have fever at the time of presentation and 16 (40%) did not have leukocytosis.[20] The study also found that no combination of laboratory or clinical values was useful in identifying patients at a high risk for a positive HBS finding.

Radiography

Gallstones may be visualized on noncontrast radiography in 10%-15% of cases. This finding only indicates cholelithiasis, with or without active cholecystitis.

Subdiaphragmatic free air cannot originate in the biliary tract, and if present, it indicates another disease process. Gas limited to the gallbladder wall or lumen represents emphysematous cholecystitis, usually because of gas-forming bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and clostridial and anaerobic streptococci species. Emphysematous cholecystitis is associated with increased mortality and occurs most commonly in males with diabetes and with acalculous cholecystitis.

See Emphysematous Cholecystitis for more complete information on this topic.

A diffusely calcified gallbladder (ie, porcelainized) most commonly is associated with carcinoma, although two studies have found no association between partial calcification of the gallbladder and carcinoma.[21, 22]

Other findings may include renal calculi, intestinal obstruction, or pneumonia.

See Acute Cholecystitis Imaging and Acalculous Cholecystitis Imaging for more complete information on these topics.

Ultrasonography

Ultrasonography is 90%-95% sensitive for cholecystitis and is 78%-80% specific. It provides greater than 95% sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of gallstones more than 2 mm in diameter. Studies indicate that emergency clinicians require minimal training in order to use right upper quadrant ultrasonography in their practice.[23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28]

Ultrasonographic findings that are suggestive of acute cholecystitis include the following: pericholecystic fluid, gallbladder wall thickening greater than 4 mm, and sonographic Murphy sign. The presence of gallstones also helps to confirm the diagnosis.

Ultrasonography is performed best following a fast of at least 8 hours because gallstones are visualized best in a distended bile-filled gallbladder.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) with the agent perflubutane (Sonazoid) shows promise for its use in the diagnosis of gangrenous cholecystitis.[29] In a study comprising 27 patients with acute cholecystitis who underwent preoperative CEUS, 15 patients had a final diagnosis of gangrenous cholecystitis and 12 patients had uncomplicated cholecystitis, all confirmed via histologic examination. Of the 15 patients diagnosed with gangrenous cholecystitis, CEUS detected perfusion defects in 10 patients (66.7% sensitivity, 100% specificity; 100% positive predictive value [PPV] and 70.6% negative predictive value [NPV]). Review of the movie clips of the CEUS raised the sensitivity to 73.3% and the NPV to 75%.[29] Interobserver agreement was good (κ coefficient = 0.64).

Disadvantages of ultrasonography include the fact that this imaging modality is operator and patient dependent, it is unable to image the cystic duct, and it has a decreased sensitivity for common bile duct stones. In addition, in the setting of concomitant acute pancreatitis, ultrasonographic findings alone are not adequate to accurately identify acute cholecystitis.[30]

See Acute Cholecystitis Imaging and Acalculous Cholecystitis Imaging for more complete information on these topics.

Computed Tomography Scanning and Magnetic Resonance Imaging

The sensitivity and specificity of computed tomography (CT) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in predicting acute cholecystitis have been reported to be greater than 95%.[31] Spiral CT scan and MRI (unlike endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography [ERCP]) have the advantage of being noninvasive, but they have no therapeutic potential and are most appropriate in cases where bile duct stones are unlikely.

Findings suggestive of cholecystitis include wall thickening (>4 mm), pericholecystic fluid, subserosal edema (in the absence of ascites), intramural gas, and sloughed mucosa.

Diffusion-weighted (DW) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) shows potential for differentiating between acute and chronic cholecystitis.[32] In a study comprised of 83 patients with abdominal pain, Wang et al noted that increased signal on high b-value images were highly sensitive and moderately specific for acute cholecystitis.[32]

CT scanning and MRI are also useful for viewing the surrounding structures if the diagnosis is uncertain.

See Acute Cholecystitis Imaging and Acalculous Cholecystitis Imaging for more complete information on these topics.

Hepatobiliary Scintigraphy

Hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) has been found to be up to 95% accurate in diagnosing acute cholecystitis. The reported sensitivities and specificities of biliary scintigraphy are in the range of 90%-100% and 85%-95%. (See the following two images.)

Cholecystitis. Normal finding on hepatoiminodiacet Cholecystitis. Normal finding on hepatoiminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan.
Cholecystitis. Abnormal finding on hepatoiminodiac Cholecystitis. Abnormal finding on hepatoiminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scan.

In a typical study, the gallbladder, common bile duct, and small bowel fill within 30-45 minutes. If the gallbladder is not visualized, intravenous morphine administration can improve the accuracy of HBS by increasing the resistance to flow through the sphincter of Oddi, resulting in filling of the gallbladder if the cystic duct is patent. The addition of morphine also reduces the number of false-positive scan results observed in patients who are critically ill and immobilized with viscous bile.

See Acute Cholecystitis Imaging and Acalculous Cholecystitis Imaging for more complete information on these topics.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may be useful for visualizing the anatomy in patients at high risk for gallstones if signs of common bile duct obstruction are present. A study performed by Sahai et al found that ERCP was preferred over endoscopic ultrasonography and intraoperative cholangiography for patients at high risk for common bile duct stones undergoing laparoscopic cholecystectomy.[33]

Disadvantages of ERCP include the need for a skilled operator, high cost, and complications such as pancreatitis, which occurs in 3%-5% of cases.

See Acute Cholecystitis Imaging and Acalculous Cholecystitis Imaging for more complete information on these topics.

Histologic Findings

Edema and venous congestion are early acute changes. Acute cholecystitis is usually superimposed on a histologic picture of chronic cholecystitis. Specific findings include fibrosis, flattening of the mucosa, and chronic inflammatory cells. Mucosal herniations known as Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses are related to increased hydrostatic pressure and are present in 56% of cases. Focal necrosis and an influx of neutrophils may also be present. Advanced cases may show gangrene or perforation.

 

Treatment

Approach Considerations

Treatment of cholecystitis depends on the severity of the condition and the presence or absence of complications. Uncomplicated cases can often be treated on an outpatient basis; complicated cases may necessitate a surgical approach. In patients who are unstable, percutaneous transhepatic cholecystostomy drainage may be appropriate. Antibiotics may be given to manage infection. Definitive therapy involves cholecystectomy or placement of a drainage device; therefore, consultation with a surgeon is warranted. Consultation with a gastroenterologist for consideration of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) may also be appropriate if concern exists about the presence of choledocholithiasis.

Patients admitted for cholecystitis should receive nothing by mouth because of expectant surgery. However, in uncomplicated cholecystitis, a liquid or low-fat diet may be appropriate until the time of surgery.

For more information, see the Medscape Drugs & Diseases article Acute Cholecystitis and Biliary Colic.

Initial Therapy and Antibiotic Treatment

In acute cholecystitis, the initial treatment includes bowel rest, intravenous hydration, correction of electrolyte abnormalities, analgesia, and intravenous antibiotics. For mild cases of acute cholecystitis, antibiotic therapy with a single broad-spectrum antibiotic is adequate. Some options include the following:

  • The current Sanford guide recommendations include piperacillin/tazobactam (Zosyn, 3.375 g IV q6h or 4.5 g IV q8h), ampicillin/sulbactam (Unasyn, 3 g IV q6h), or meropenem (Merrem, 1 g IV q8h). In severe life-threatening cases, the Sanford Guide recommends imipenem/cilastatin (Primaxin, 500 mg IV q6h).

  • Alternative regimens include a third-generation cephalosporin plus metronidazole (Flagyl, 1 g IV loading dose followed by 500 mg IV q6h).

  • Bacteria that are commonly associated with cholecystitis include Escherichia coli and Bacteroides fragilis, as well as Klebsiella, Enterococcus, and Pseudomonas species.

  • Emesis can be treated with antiemetics and nasogastric suction.

  • Because of the rapid progression of acute acalculous cholecystitis to gangrene and perforation, early recognition and intervention are required.

  • Supportive medical care should include restoration of hemodynamic stability and antibiotic coverage for gram-negative enteric flora and anaerobes if biliary tract infection is suspected.

  • Daily stimulation of gallbladder contraction with intravenous cholecystokinin (CCK) has been shown by some to effectively prevent the formation of gallbladder sludge in patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN).

Conservative Treatment of Uncomplicated Cholecystitis

Outpatient treatment may be appropriate for cases of uncomplicated cholecystitis. If a patient can be treated as an outpatient, discharge with antibiotics, appropriate analgesics, and definitive follow-up care. Criteria for outpatient treatment include the following:

  • Afebrile with stable vital signs

  • No evidence of obstruction by laboratory values

  • No evidence of common bile duct obstruction on ultrasonography

  • No underlying medical problems, advanced age, pregnancy, or immunocompromised condition

  • Adequate analgesia

  • Reliable patient with transportation and easy access to a medical facility

  • Prompt follow-up care

The following medications may be appropriate in this setting:

  • Prophylactic antibiotic coverage with levofloxacin (Levaquin, 500 mg PO qd) and metronidazole (500 mg PO bid), which should provide coverage against the most common organisms

  • Antiemetics, such as oral/rectal promethazine (Phenergan) or prochlorperazine (Compazine), to control nausea and to prevent fluid and electrolyte disorders

  • Analgesics, such as oral oxycodone/acetaminophen (Percocet) or hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Vicodin)

Cholecystectomy

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the standard of care for the surgical treatment of cholecystitis. Studies have indicated that early laparoscopic cholecystectomy resulted in shorter total hospital stays with no significant difference in the conversion rates or complications.[34, 35, 36, 37, 38] Zafar et al reported that the best outcomes and lowest costs were achieved when laparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed within two days of presentation of acute cholecystitis.[39]  

In a retrospective meta-analysis; Huang et al analyzed the outcomes of 8960 high-risk surgical patients with acute calculous cholecystitis and concluded that laparoscopic cholecystectomy outperformed percutaneous cholecystostomy in overall morbidity, mortality, length of hospitalization, and readmission rates.[38]

The ACR criteria state that laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the primary mode of treatment for acute cholecystitis.[1]

The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) issued guidelines for the clinical application of laparoscopic biliary tract surgery in 2010. The guidelines include detailed recommendations for making the decision to operate, performing the procedure, and managing postoperative care, with the patient's safety always the primary consideration. Recommendations are as follows:[41]

  • Preoperative antibiotics should be considered only to reduce the possibility of wound infection in high-risk patients, and then limited to one preoperative dose.

  • Intraoperative cholangiography may improve injury recognition and decrease the risk of bile duct injury.

  • If bile duct injury occurs, the patient should be referred to an experienced hepatobiliary specialist before any repair is undertaken, unless the primary surgeon has experience with biliary reconstruction.

Wilson et al used decision tree analytic modeling to compare the cost-effectiveness and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) of early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (ELC) and delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy (DLC) and found that, on average, ELC is less expensive and results in better quality of life (+0.05 QALYs per patient) than DLC.[42, 43]

Early operation within 72 hours of admission has both medical and socioeconomic benefits and is the preferred approach for patients treated by surgeons with adequate experience in laparoscopic cholecystectomy.[44] Immediate cholecystectomy or cholecystostomy is usually reserved for complicated cases in which the patient has gangrene or perforation.

One study suggests that when CT scanning is performed as long as 72 hours prior to surgery, it may better detect acute gangrenous cholecystitis. Acute gangrenous cholecystitis was significantly correlated with perfusion defect of the gallbladder wall and pericholecystic stranding, which can be better observed by CT scanning compared with ultrasonography.[45]

Single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy appears to be safe and effective for acute cholecystitis.[37, 44] Early surgical intervention potentially reduces the risk of laparotomy conversion.[37] Note that single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy may be associated with an 8% rate of incisional hernia, with age (≥50 years) and body mass index (BMI) (≥30 kg/m2) as independent predictive factors.[46]

For elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy, the rate of conversion from a laparoscopic procedure to an open surgical procedure is approximately 5%. The conversion rate for emergency cholecystectomy where perforation or gangrene is present may be as high as 30%.

Although laparoscopic cholecystectomy performed in a pregnant woman is considered safest during the second trimester, it has been performed successfully during all trimesters.

Contraindications of laparoscopic cholecystectomy include the following:

  • High risk for general anesthesia

  • Morbid obesity

  • Signs of gallbladder perforation, such as abscess, peritonitis, or fistula

  • Giant gallstones or suspected malignancy

  • End-stage liver disease with portal hypertension and severe coagulopathy

The 2010 SAGES guideline adds to these contraindications septic shock from cholangitis, acute pancreatitis, lack of equipment, lack of surgical expertise, and previous abdominal surgery that impedes the procedure.[41]

Percutaneous Drainage

For patients at high surgical risk, placement of a sonographically guided, percutaneous, transhepatic cholecystostomy drainage tube coupled with the administration of antibiotics may provide definitive therapy.[47]  Results of studies suggest that most patients with acute acalculous cholecystitis can be treated with percutaneous drainage alone,[48, 49] but the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) guideline describes radiographically guided percutaneous cholecystostomy as a temporizing measure until the patient can undergo cholecystectomy.[41]

 

 

Endoscopic Treatment

Endoscopy may be used for therapeutic purposes, as well as for diagnosis.

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) allows visualization of the anatomy and can provide therapy by removing stones from the common bile duct.

Endoscopic ultrasound-guided transmural cholecystostomy

Studies indicate that this procedure may be safe as an initial, interim, or definitive treatment of patients with severe acute cholecystitis who are at high operative risk for immediate cholecystectomy.[50, 51]

Endoscopic gallbladder drainage

Endoscopic ultrasonographic (EUS)–guided biliary drainage procedures continue to evolve; they may be used as primary and/or second intervention, such as in the following clinical scenarios[52] :

  • Biliary obstruction and incomplete drainage with prior interventions
  • Inaccessible ampulla
  • Previous failed bile duct cannulation during endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) 

Mutignani et al, in a study of the efficacy of endoscopic gallbladder drainage as a treatment for acute cholecystitis in 35 patients with the condition and with no residual common bile duct obstruction, found that endoscopic gallbladder drainage was technically successful in 29 patients and, after a median period of 3 days, clinically successful in 24 of them.[48]

Four patients died within 3 days after the procedure as a result of septic complications, while a fifth patient accidentally removed a nasocholecystic drain 24 hours after the operation. At follow-up (on 21 patients, after a median period of 17 months), the investigators found that 4 patients had suffered a relapse of either acute cholecystitis (2 patients) or biliary pain (2 patients). Mutignani et al concluded that endoscopic gallbladder drainage appears to be an effective, but temporary, means of resolving acute cholecystitis.[48]

Studies indicate that EUS-guided transmural stenting for gallbladder drainage is feasible, safe, and effective, with particularly high technical and clinical success rates with the use of plastic stents and self-expandable metal stents (SEMSs).[53] Lumen-apposing metal stents (LAMSs) show promise for having high potential in efficacy and safety.

 

Guidelines

WSES Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Calculus Cholecystitis (2020)

Clinical practice guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of acute calculus cholecystitis (ACC) were updated in November 2020 by the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES).[54]

Diagnosis

The suggested combination for diagnosis is a detailed history, complete clinical examination, laboratory testing, and imaging investigations. It is recommended to not rely on a single diagnostic test or clinical or laboratory finding, as none has sufficient diagnostic power to establish or exclude the diagnosis of ACC. The best combination of diagnostic investigations is not known.

The preferred initial imaging technique is abdominal ultrasonography (US). It is cost-effective, noninvasive, widely available, and accurate.

Other suggested imaging studies in select patients may include hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid scanning, which has the highest sensitivity and specificity for ACC diagnosis compared with other imaging modalities. The accuracy of MRI is comparable to abdominal US. The accuracy of CT scanning for the diagnosis of ACC is considered poor.

Surgical Treatment

The recommended first-line treatment for ACC is laparoscopic cholecystectomy.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be avoided in patients with septic shock or absolute anesthesiology contraindications.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is suggested to be safe and feasible in patients who have Child-Pugh A or B cirrhosis, those of advanced age (>80 years), or women who are pregnant.

If there is difficulty with anatomic identification of structures during cholecystectomy, the recommended procedure is laparoscopic or open subtotal cholecystectomy.

Conversion from laparoscopic to open cholecystectomy is recommended in patients with severe local inflammation, adhesions, bleeding from the cystohepatic (Calot) triangle, or suspected injury to the bile duct.

Timing of Cholecystectomy in ACC

If adequate surgical expertise is available, the recommended timing for early laparoscopic cholecystectomy is that it should be performed as soon as possible, within 7 days from admission to the hospital and within 10 days from symptom onset.

If early laparoscopic cholecystectomy cannot be performed in the recommended time parameters, delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be performed after 6 weeks from first clinical presentation.

Alternative Treatments and Gall Bladder Drainage in Patients Not Suitable for Surgery

For patients who refuse surgery or those who are not suitable to undergo surgery, nonoperative management with best medical therapy (ie, antibiotics, observation) is suggested.

Alternative treatment options can be considered in patients in whom nonoperative management fails, those who still refuse surgery, and those who are not suitable for surgery.

Gallbladder drainage is recommended in patients with ACC who are not suitable for surgery; this procedure converts a septic patient with ACC into a nonseptic patient.

Delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy can be offered to patients after perioperative risk is reduced; this decreases the re-admission rate for ACC relapse or gallstone-related disease.

In patients with ACC who are not suitable for surgery, alternatives to percutaneous transhepatic gallbladder drainage include endoscopic transpapillary gallbladder drainage or US-guided transmural gallbladder drainage; both are considered safe and effective alternatives if performed at a high-volume center by a skilled endoscopist.

In this select group of patients, endoscopic transmural US-guided gallbladder drainage with lumen-apposing self-expandable metal stents is preferred over endoscopic transpapillary gallbladder drainage.

Antibiotics in ACC

The routine use of postoperative antibiotics is not recommended in uncomplicated ACC when the focus of infection is controlled by cholecystectomy.

In complicated ACC, it is recommended that an antimicrobial regimen is prescribed; it should be based on the presumed pathogens involved and major resistance patterns.

In the case of complicated ACC with a high risk for antimicrobial resistance, it is recommended that the antibiotic regimen be targeted based on the results of a microbiological analysis, which ensures adequate antimicrobial coverage.

WSES Guidelines on Acute Calculous Cholecystitis in the Elderly (2017)

The guidelines on acute calculous cholecystitis (ACC) in the elderly were released on March 4, 2019, by the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES) and the Italian Society of Geriatric Surgery (SICG).[55]

Diagnostic Testing

In elderly patients, no single investigation is capable of establishing or excluding ACC without further testing. A combination of symptoms, signs, and laboratory tests results may have better diagnostic accuracy.

Abdominal ultrasonography (US) is the preferred initial imaging technique for elderly patients clinically suspected of having acute cholecystitis.

Data on the diagnostic accuracy of computed tomography (CT) are scarce. The accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be comparable to that of abdominal US, but the data are insufficient to support this view. Hepatobiliary iminodiacetic acid (HIDA) scanning has the highest sensitivity and specificity, but scarce availability, long execution time, and radiation exposure limit its use.

Combining clinical, laboratory, and imaging investigations should be recommended, though the best combination is not yet known.

No high-quality studies on specific diagnostic findings of ACC in the elderly are available.

Pros vs Cons of Surgical Treatment

Old age (>65 years), by itself, is not a contraindication for cholecystectomy to treat ACC.

Cholecystectomy is the preferred treatment for ACC even in elderly patients.

Evaluation of risk for elderly ACC patients should include the following:

  • Mortality for conservative and surgical therapeutic options

  • Rate of gallstone-related disease relapse and time to relapse

  • Age-related life expectancy

  • Patient frailty; consider use of frailty scores for assessment

  • Specific risk (for individual patient or particular procedure); consider use of surgical clinical scores

Optimal Timing and Choice of Surgical Technique

A laparoscopic approach should always be attempted first, except in the case of absolute anesthetic contraindications or septic shock.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy is safe and feasible in elderly patients, associated with a low complication rate and a shorter hospital stay.

Laparoscopic or open subtotal cholecystectomy is a valid option for advanced inflammation, gangrenous gallbladder, and "difficult gallbladder."

Conversion to open surgery may be predicted by fever, leukocytosis, elevated serum bilirubin, and extensive upper abdominal surgery. It should be considered in the setting of local severe inflammation, adhesions, bleeding in the Calot triangle, or suspected bile duct injury.

Laparoscopic cholecystectomy should be performed as soon as possible but can be performed up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

Percutaneous Cholecystostomy in Patients Unsuitable for Surgery

Percutaneous cholecystostomy can be considered in the treatment of ACC patients deemed unfit for surgery (>65 years, American Society of Anesthesiologists [ASA] class 3 or 4, performance status 3 to 4, septic shock).

When medical therapy has failed, percutaneous cholecystostomy should be considered as a bridge to cholecystectomy in acutely ill (high-risk) elderly patients deemed unfit for surgery to render them more suitable for surgery.

Percutaneous transhepatic cholecystostomy is the preferred method of performing percutaneous cholecystostomy.

The percutaneous cholecystostomy catheter should be removed 4-6 weeks after placement if a cholangiogram performed 2-3 weeks after cholecystostomy demonstrated biliary tree patency.

Management of Associated Biliary Tree Stones

Elevation of liver biochemical enzymes and/or bilirubin levels is not sufficient to identify patients with choledocholithiasis; further diagnostic tests are needed.

Visualization of common bile duct (CBD) stones on abdominal US is a very strong predictor of choledocholithiasis. Indirect signs of stone presence (eg, increased CBD diameter) are not sufficient to identify patients with choledocholithiasis; further diagnostic tests are needed.

Liver biochemical tests and abdominal US should be performed in all patients to assess the risk for CBD stones. CBD stone risk should be stratified according to a classification modified from American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) guidelines.

Elderly patients at moderate risk for choledocholithiasis should be evaluated with preoperative magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP), endoscopic US, intraoperative cholangiography, or laparoscopic US, depending on local expertise and availability.

Elderly patients at high risk for choledocholithiasis should undergo preoperative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), intraoperative cholangiography, or laparoscopic US, depending on local expertise and availability.

CBD stones may be removed preoperatively, intraoperatively, or postoperatively in accordance with local expertise and availability.

Choice of Antibiotic Regimen

Elderly patients with uncomplicated cholecystitis can be treated without postoperative antibiotics when the focus of infection is controlled by cholecystectomy.

In elderly patients with complicated acute cholecystitis, broad-spectrum antibiotic regimens are recommended; adequate empiric therapy significantly affects outcomes in critical elderly patients.

Microbiologic analysis is helpful for designing targeted therapeutic strategies for individual patients.

Additional Resources

For more information, see Acute Cholecystitis Imaging, Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy, Open Cholecystectomy, Single-Port Cholecystectomy, and Transvaginal Cholecystectomy.

For more Clinical Practice Guidelines, go to Guidelines.

 

Medication

Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy are to reduce morbidity and to prevent complications. Agents used in patients with cholecystitis include antiemetics, analgesics, and antibiotics.

Antiemetics

Class Summary

Patients with cholecystitis frequently experience nausea and vomiting. Antiemetics can help make the patient more comfortable and can prevent fluid and electrolyte abnormalities.

Promethazine (Phenergan, Promethegan, Phenadoz)

Promethazine is used for symptomatic treatment of nausea in vestibular dysfunction. It is an antidopaminergic agent effective in treating emesis. It blocks postsynaptic mesolimbic dopaminergic receptors in the brain and reduces stimuli to the brainstem reticular system.

Prochlorperazine (Compazine)

Prochlorperazine may relieve nausea and vomiting by blocking the postsynaptic mesolimbic dopamine receptors through anticholinergic effects and depressing the reticular activating system. In addition to the antiemetic effects, it has the advantage of augmenting hypoxic ventilatory response, acting as a respiratory stimulant at high altitude.

Analgesics

Class Summary

Pain is a prominent feature of cholecystitis. The classic teaching is that morphine is not the agent of choice because of the possibility of increasing tone at the sphincter of Oddi. Meperidine has been shown to provide adequate analgesia without affecting the sphincter of Oddi and, therefore, is the drug of choice.

Meperidine (Demerol)

Meperidine is the drug of choice for pain control. It is an analgesic with multiple actions similar to those of morphine. It may produce less constipation, smooth muscle spasm, and depression of cough reflex than similar analgesic doses of morphine.

Hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lortab 5/500, Lorcet-HD)

This drug combination is indicated for moderate to severe pain. Each tab/cap contains 5 mg hydrocodone and 500 mg acetaminophen.

Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Tylox, Roxicet)

This drug combination is indicated for relief of moderate to severe pain. Each tab/cap contains 5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen.

Antibiotics

Class Summary

Treatment of cholecystitis with antibiotics should provide coverage against the most common organisms, including Escherichia coli and Bacteroides fragilis, as well as Klebsiella,Pseudomonas, and Enterococcus species. The current Sanford guide recommendations for the treatment of cholecystitis include ampicillin/sulbactam or piperacillin/tazobactam for non–life-threatening cases of cholecystitis. In life-threatening cases, Sanford recommends imipenem/cilastatin or meropenem. Alternatives include metronidazole plus a third-generation cephalosporin, ciprofloxacin, or aztreonam.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Ciprofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone that inhibits bacterial DNA synthesis and, consequently, growth, by inhibiting DNA gyrase and topoisomerases, which are required for replication, transcription, and translation of genetic material. Quinolones have a broad activity against gram-positive and gram-negative aerobic organisms but no activity against anaerobes. Continue treatment for at least 2 days (7-14 days is typical) after signs and symptoms have disappeared.

Meropenem (Merrem)

Meropenem is a bactericidal broad-spectrum carbapenem antibiotic that inhibits cell wall synthesis. It is effective against most gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It has slightly increased activity against gram-negatives and slightly decreased activity against staphylococci and streptococci compared to imipenem.

Imipenem and cilastatin (Primaxin)

This combination is used to treat multiple-organism infections in which other agents do not have wide spectrum coverage or are contraindicated because of potential for toxicity.

Piperacillin and tazobactam (Zosyn)

This combination is an antipseudomonal penicillin plus a beta-lactamase inhibitor. It inhibits biosynthesis of cell wall mucopeptide and is effective during the stage of active multiplication.

Ampicillin and sulbactam (Unasyn)

This drug combination is a beta-lactamase inhibitor with ampicillin. It covers epidermal and enteric flora and anaerobes. It is not ideal for nosocomial pathogens.

Metronidazole (Flagyl)

Metronidazole is an imidazole ring-based antibiotic that is active against various anaerobic bacteria and protozoa. It is used in combination with other antimicrobial agents (except in Clostridium difficile enterocolitis).

Levofloxacin (Levaquin)

Levofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone that is used for pseudomonal infections and infections due to multidrug-resistant gram-negative organisms. Prophylactic antibiotic coverage with levofloxacin (Levaquin, 500 mg PO qd) and metronidazole (500 mg PO bid) provides coverage against the most common organisms in cases of uncomplicated cholecystitis.

Aztreonam (Azactam)

Aztreonam is a monobactam, not a beta-lactam, antibiotic that inhibits cell wall synthesis during bacterial growth. It is active against gram-negative bacilli but has very limited gram-positive activity and is not useful for anaerobes. It lacks cross-sensitivity with beta-lactam antibiotics. Aztreonam may be used in patients allergic to penicillins or cephalosporins and is an alternative to life-threatening cases of cholecystitis.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)

Ceftriaxone is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity; it has lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. Its bactericidal activity results from inhibiting cell wall synthesis by binding to one or more penicillin-binding proteins. It exerts an antimicrobial effect by interfering with the synthesis of peptidoglycan, a major structural component of bacterial cell walls. Bacteria eventually lyse as a result of the ongoing activity of cell wall autolytic enzymes, while cell wall assembly is arrested.

Cefotaxime (Claforan)

Cefotaxime is a third-generation cephalosporin with a broad gram-negative spectrum, lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms, and higher efficacy against resistant organisms.

Ceftazidime (Fortaz)

Ceftazidime is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum, gram-negative activity, including against pseudomonas; it has lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. It arrests bacterial growth by binding to one or more penicillin-binding proteins, which, in turn, inhibits the final transpeptidation step of peptidoglycan synthesis in bacterial cell wall synthesis, thus inhibiting cell wall biosynthesis.

 

Questions & Answers

Overview

What is cholecystitis?

What are the signs and symptoms of cholecystitis?

What is the presentation of cholecystitis in old and young patients?

What are the physical findings of cholecystitis?

Which lab tests may be useful in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

Which imaging studies may be performed in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What are ACR recommendations for diagnostic imaging of cholecystitis?

How is acute cholecystitis treated?

How is uncomplicated cholecystitis treated?

What are the surgical and interventional procedures used to treat cholecystitis?

What is the definition of cholecystitis?

What are the risk factors for cholecystitis?

What is the etiology of acalculous cholecystitis?

What is the prognosis of cholecystitis?

What are the presentation and physical findings of acute cholecystitis?

Which factor increases the morbidity and mortality of acute cholecystitis?

What are the treatment options for cholecystitis?

What patient education should be provided to individuals with cholecystitis?

How frequently are gallstones present in patients with cholecystitis?

What is the pathogenesis of acute cholecystitis?

What is the role of endotoxin in the pathogenesis of cholecystitis?

What are the risk factors for calculous cholecystitis?

Which conditions are associated with acalculous cholecystitis?

What is the etiology of acalculous cholecystitis?

Which patients are at an increased risk of developing cholecystitis?

What is the prevalence of cholecystitis in the US?

Does the incidence of cholecystitis vary among age groups?

Does cholecystitis have a gender predilection?

Does cholecystitis have a racial predilection?

What is the prognosis of uncomplicated cholecystitis?

Which factors increase the morbidity and mortality risk of cholecystitis?

What is the presentation of empyema in patients with cholecystitis?

What is gallstone ileus?

What is emphysematous cholecystitis?

Presentation

What are the signs and symptoms of acute cholecystitis?

How is cholecystitis differentiated from biliary colic?

What is the presentation of acalculous cholecystitis?

What is the presentation of cholecystitis in elderly patients?

What is the presentation of cholecystitis in children?

What are the physical findings of cholecystitis?

What are the physical findings of cholecystitis in elderly patients and in patients with diabetes?

DDX

Does a delay in the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis affect patient outcome?

What should be included in the differential diagnosis of suspected cholecystitis in pregnant patients?

What are the differential diagnoses for Cholecystitis?

Workup

What is included in the workup for cholecystitis?

Which lab tests may be useful in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

Are there clinical and lab parameters that predict the outcome of hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) in acute cholecystitis?

What are the ACR Appropriateness Criteria imaging recommendations for the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What is the role of noncontrast radiography in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

Which radiographic findings suggest emphysematous cholecystitis?

What does a radiographic finding of diffusely calcified gallbladder indicate in a patient with suspected cholecystitis?

What is the sensitivity and specificity of ultrasonography for the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

Which ultrasonography findings suggest acute cholecystitis?

When should ultrasonography for cholecystitis be performed for best results?

What is the role of contrast-enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What are the disadvantages of ultrasonography for cholecystitis?

What are the sensitivity and specificity of CT scanning and MRI in predicting acute cholecystitis?

Which CT scanning and MRI findings suggest cholecystitis?

What is the role of diffusion-weighted (DW) MRI in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What is the sensitivity and specificity of hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) in the diagnosis of acute cholecystitis?

What is the role of hepatobiliary scintigraphy (HBS) in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What is the role of ERCP in the diagnosis of cholecystitis?

What are the histologic findings of cholecystitis?

Treatment

What should be considered in treatment selection for cholecystitis?

When is a liquid diet indicated for hospitalized patients with cholecystitis?

What are the initial treatments and antibiotic regimens for acute cholecystitis?

What are the criteria for outpatient treatment of cholecystitis?

Which medications are used for outpatient treatment of cholecystitis?

What are the contraindications to laparoscopic cholecystectomy?

What is the role of laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the treatment of cholecystitis?

What are the SAGES guidelines for laparoscopic biliary tract surgery for cholecystitis?

What are the benefits of early laparoscopic cholecystectomy (ELC) compared to delayed laparoscopic cholecystectomy (DLC) for the treatment of cholecystitis?

What are the benefits of CT scanning compared to ultrasonography for detecting acute gangrenous cholecystitis?

Is single-incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy a safe and effective treatment for acute cholecystitis?

What is the conversion rate for laparoscopic cholecystectomy to open cholecystectomy for cholecystitis?

When is laparoscopic cholecystectomy indicated in the treatment of cholecystitis during pregnancy?

What are the alternative treatment options for patients with cholecystitis at high surgical risk?

What is the role of ERCP in the treatment of cholecystitis?

What is the role of endoscopic ultrasound-guided transmural cholecystostomy in the treatment of cholecystitis?

When is endoscopic ultrasonographic (EUS)-guided biliary drainage indicated for the treatment of cholecystitis?

What is the efficacy of endoscopic gallbladder drainage for the treatment of cholecystitis?

What is the efficacy of endoscopic ultrasonographic (EUS)-guided transmural stenting for the treatment of cholecystitis?

Medications

What are the goals of pharmacotherapy for cholecystitis?

Which medications in the drug class Antiemetics are used in the treatment of Cholecystitis?

Which medications in the drug class Analgesics are used in the treatment of Cholecystitis?

Which medications in the drug class Antibiotics are used in the treatment of Cholecystitis?