Cholecystitis refers to severe abdominal pain associated with gallbladder inflammation or gallstones. Acute Cholecystitis can manifest as sharp cramping pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. This pain can spread to the back or below the right shoulder blade. It usually appears after a fatty meal. Cholecystitis might also lead to nausea and vomiting and often jaundice. The person suffering Cholecystitis might notice clay colored stools and fever. Diagnostic tests that are prescribed to detect this condition are Liver function test, abdominal ultrasound and Endoscopy.
In many cases, Cholecystitis can clear on its own, with the right low fat diet and antibiotics. But in other cases, Cholecystectomy may be done to remove the gallbladder. Acute Cholecystitis needs to be treated urgently lest it lead to complications such as a perforated gallbladder or gangrenous Cholecystitis where the gallbladder tissue dies. On the other hand, cholangitis involves infection of the bile ducts either due to biliary obstruction or bacterial infection.
The gall bladder is a small pear shaped organ on the underside of the liver that is used to store bile. When partially digested food passes from the stomach into the small intestine, the gall bladder expels bile to aid digestion. While gallstones usually form in the gallbladder; they can be found in bile; in the intrahepatic, hepatic, common bile, and cystic ducts. Cholelithiasis as Gallstones are called, often do not cause any symptoms. Gallstones are hard masses formed in the gallbladder or its associated passages. They are often discovered when having a routine x ray, abdominal surgery, or abdominal ultrasound. Cholangiography - radiographic examination of the bile duct is performed after injecting with a special dye to check the condition of Cholangitis - infection or inflammation of the bile ducts. Cholangitis manifests in the form of severe abdominal pain, fever and Jaundice.
When gallstones move from the gallbladder into the cystic duct of common bile duct (Choledocholithiasis), it can lead to a severe cramping pain in the upper right abdomen which can radiate to the right shoulder as a result of the blocked bile flow. This can last from a few minutes to a few hours. Cholesterol gallstones are more often noticed in women who are obese, on HRT or with elevated blood triglyceride. Black pigment gallstones are usually formed when there is increased destruction of RBC. Others who are likely to suffer gallstones are those suffering liver cirrhosis and biliary tract infections or sickle cell anemia. Gallstones can form when the gallbladder does not empty bile properly. Blood tests to check bilirubin, liver function test and pancreatic enzymes are often ordered. In cases of severe painful episodes, Cholecystectomy is performed.
People suffering from gall bladder disease should follow a low fat diet for healthy living. The bile from the gall bladder is necessary for proper digestion of fats. When there is no bile or not enough bile is produced by the gall bladder, fat from food cannot be properly digested and makes one feel ill or causes diarrhea. Hence a long-term dietary therapy is strongly recommended for people who have had gall bladder surgery. If your gall bladder is diseased, a low fat diet reduces stimulation of the organ and allows your gall bladder adequate rest. This eating plan also helps to prevent painful spasms of the bile duct.
Hepatomegaly refers to abnormal swelling of the liver. On palpation of the right side of the abdomen, if the liver extends below the ribs, it indicates an enlarged liver. Hepatitis indicates general inflammation of the liver. If both the liver and spleen are enlarged, the condition is called Hepatosplenomegaly.
Possible causes of Hepatomegaly include:
- Fatty Liver
- Congestive Heart Failure CHF
- Niemann Pick Disease
- Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
- Reye syndrome
- Alcohol Use
- Sclerosing Cholangitis (inflammation of bile ducts resulting in scars)
Most people suffering Hepatomegaly do not have any noticeable symptoms. Some experience fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and pain on the right side of the abdomen. Diagnostic tests such as abdominal ultrasound, Liver Function Test and abdomen MRI are suggested.