What Triggers Cholecystitis?

Up to 15% of the population in the United States has gallstones, but, thankfully, only one in five experience any symptoms. Better still, of those who are symptomatic, only 1%-4% experience complications that stem from gallstones, often at the hands of cholecystitis, or inflammation of the gallbladder.

Given that 20 million people have gallstones, however, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the potential complications so you know when to seek our help. At Rockwall Surgical Specialists, our team of surgeons has extensive experience helping our patients overcome complications like cholecystitis, typically through surgical removal of the gallbladder — a procedure known as a cholecystectomy.

Here’s a closer look at what triggers cholecystitis and, more importantly, what your next steps should be.

Behind the gallstones

Your gallbladder is a small organ on the right side of your abdomen that stores bile, which is a digestive fluid that helps your small intestine break down fats. Your liver is responsible for producing the bile, which it then sends to your gallbladder for storage and release.

Gallstones develop when your bile forms hardened deposits, usually because of high levels of cholesterol, calcium salts, or bilirubin.

When gallstones become problematic

If your gallstones are small, they usually don’t present any problems, as your gallbladder can still function around them. In fact, 80% of people with gallstones are usually unaware of their existence.

For 20% of those with gallstones, however, the small deposits can present problems, which usually starts with biliary colic, a condition marked by pain and discomfort, which subsides when your gallstone passes into your small intestine.

In less common cases, your gallstones may become too large to pass through to your small intestine, which can lead to the pain and inflammation that are the hallmarks of cholecystitis. While large gallstones are the primary trigger for cholecystitis, this condition can also develop because of scar tissue, an infection, or a tumor that blocks the flow of your bile.

In all of these cases, you’re left with considerable pain as your bile duct becomes blocked and bile backs up in your gallbladder. While the pain is often enough to get your attention, cholecystitis can be very serious if left untreated, as you run the risk of a gallbladder rupture.

Treating your cholecystitis

If you’re struggling with symptomatic gallstones that lead to cholecystitis, we run a complete diagnostic to identify the problem. If we find that you’ve developed cholecystitis, our primary goal is to relieve the blockage, which we typically accomplish by removing your gallbladder.

Called a cholecystectomy, this surgery is fairly common — about 300,000 cholecystectomies are performed annually in the U.S. The good news is that you can function perfectly well without your gallbladder.

Another point to consider is that while no one likes the thought of surgery, our team uses the very latest techniques, including laparoscopic surgery and single-site robotic surgery. The benefits of these techniques are manyfold and include:

If you suspect you may have gallstones or cholecystitis, early intervention is key. We urge you to contact one of our locations in Rowlett, Rockwall, Greenville, or Forney, Texas, for a consultation.

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