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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes cholecystitis?

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    Dr Salena Ward

    Bariatric (Obesity) Surgeon, General Surgeon, Upper GI Surgeon (Abdominal)

    I am a specialist Upper Gastrointestinal (gut) Surgeon, who performs surgery for weight loss, tumours of stomach and oesophagus, reflux, hiatus hernia and gallstones. I … View Profile

    Cholecystitis is an infection of the gallbladder.

    90-95% of cholecystitis occurs due to gallstones (calculous cholecystitis). A gallstones gets stuck in the outflow of the gallbladder (usually the ‘neck’ of the gallbladder, sometimes the ‘cystic duct’ which is the duct for the gallbladder, or sometimes in the bile duct (a duct from the liver to the gut to which the gallbladder drains) which then can cause infection of the bile duct and gallbladder together). It is possible for the obstructed outflow of the gallbladder to just cause pain ('biliary colic' or ‘acute biliary pain’) but when bacteria get into the obstructed gallbladder it then causes an infection which is called ‘cholecystitis’.

    The other 5-10% of cholecystitis occurs without gallstones (acalculous cholecystitis). The reason for this is less obvious, but is often associated with other medical conditions including conditions which reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.

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