Acute or chronic inflammation of the gallbladder, causing severe abdominal pain. Acute cholecystitis is usually caused by a gallstone obstructing the outlet from the gallbladder. The trapped bile causes irritation of the gallbladder walls and may become infected by bacteria. The main symptom is severe constant pain in the right side of the abdomen under the ribs, accompanied by fever and, occasionally, jaundice. Treatment is usually with analgesic drugs, antibiotic drugs, and an intravenous infusion of nutrients and fluids. In some cases, complications develop, which may include peritonitis, if the gallbladder bursts, and empyema. Both require urgent surgical treatment. Repeated mild attacks of acute cholecystitis can lead to a chronic form, in which the gallbladder shrinks, its walls thicken, and it ceases to store bile. Symptoms (indigestion, pains in the upper abdomen, nausea, and belching) may be aggravated by eating fatty food. Cholecystectomy is the usual treatment.


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