Gallbladder Infection: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

gall bladder infection

The gallbladder or gall bladder is a small, pear-like organ found beneath the liver. Its main function is to collect bile juice released by the liver.

When the gallbladder becomes inflamed or infected, it is called cholecystitis. This is mostly due to blocked tubes leading from the gallbladder. The gallbladder releases bile into the small intestine. If the passage is blocked, the juice gets trapped and causes inflammation in the gallbladder. Other common causes are tumors and blood vessel problems.

It can be painful and can be life-threatening if not treated at the right time.

Symptoms of Gallbladder Infection

Gallbladder infection may show the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • Getting nausea
  • Feeling of tenderness touching the right or middle abdomen
  • Abdominal pain (pain may radiate along the abdomen to the shoulders and back)
  • vomiting
  • swelling
  • yellow eyes
  • loose stools

These symptoms get worse after taking a diet. Pain and swelling are felt immediately after eating a large meal or consuming a fat-rich diet.

Read- How is Gallbladder Operation done?

due to infection in the gallbladder

Infection in the gallbladder is caused by inflammation. Inflammation of the gallbladder can be due to:

bile duct narrowing

The tube through which bile juice passes becomes narrow. This creates a blockage in the passage which causes inflammation of the gallbladder.


Tumors form in the gallbladder, which prevents the release of bile. It is also a major cause of cholecystitis.


The solid deposits of bilirubin and calcium salts are called gallstones. This is the most common cause of gall bladder infection.

Read- What to eat and what not to eat in gallstones

damage to blood vessels

Some serious diseases can damage the blood vessels, causing less or less blood flow to the gallbladder. This gives rise to cholecystitis.


Some viral and bacterial infections can cause gall bladder infection. It is also caused by AIDS.

Diagnosing Gallbladder Infection

The following tests may be done to diagnose gall bladder infection:

  • blood test
  • abdominal ultrasound
  • endoscopic ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • ERCP Test

HIDA Scan- This is also a type of imaging test that is done to diagnose problems with the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts. The formation of bile and its flow from the liver to the small intestine can be observed with the help of Hepatobiliary Iminodiacetic Acid. Doctors inject a special radioactive dye into the patient through injection. This dye sticks to the cells that produce bile and travels with them.

Read- Disadvantages of Gallbladder Removal

treating gall bladder infection

The patient may have to stay in the hospital for treatment of gall bladder infection. According to the patient’s symptoms, the doctor will try to control the inflammation and infection with the following treatment methods.


Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure used to diagnose and treat problems with the liver, pancreas, bile ducts, and gall bladder. If the cause of gallbladder infection is a stone that has accumulated in the bile ducts, then doctors take help of this procedure.

It is a minimally invasive procedure that treats gallstones without removing the gallbladder. Surgical techniques are used to remove the stones that remain after the ERCP procedure.


There is tension in the gallbladder immediately after having a meal. At the beginning of treatment, you may need to fast to relieve the tension of a swollen gallbladder.


Antibiotics may be given to clear the gall bladder infection.

Liquid substance

Fluids may be given through a vein in your arm. It prevents dehydration.

After all these efforts, the infection and inflammation of the gallbladder goes away in about 2 to 3 days. If the patient does not get relief, surgery can be done.

Read- How much does gallstone surgery cost?


Cholecystectomy is surgery to remove the gallbladder. Before surgery, the patient is given general anesthesia. There are two methods of cholecystectomy:

  • Conventional (open) cholecystectomy- In this surgery, the doctor makes a 15 cm long incision on the right side of the abdomen, under the ribs. The gallbladder is removed with the help of surgical instruments and the incision is closed.

This whole process takes one to two hours. It takes 2 weeks to return to normal life after surgery. It may take 6-8 weeks to fully recover.

  • Laparoscopic cholecystectomy- It is a minimally invasive gallbladder removal procedure using a laparoscope. A laparoscope is a thin instrument with a light and camera at one end. Along with this some other surgical instruments are inserted into the body.

This process also takes an hour or two. The patient returns to his normal life within 1-2 weeks after surgery. Full recovery may take 5-6 weeks.

prevention of gall bladder infection

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of cholecystitis:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you are suffering from obesity then reduce the weight gradually. Rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstones.
  • Adopt a diet high in fiber and low in fat.

If you also see symptoms of cholecystitis, do not delay the treatment. If left untreated, the infection can reach the pancreas. If the bile ducts are damaged, the infection can also spread to the liver. You can call us to get proper advice and treatment.


Gallbladder infections can be treated through medication or a surgical procedure. To clear the infection, painkillers are given along with antibiotics. If there is an infection due to the stone, surgery may be done. It should be treated quickly or else it can be life threatening.

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