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Cholecystitis is a potentially serious condition that involves gallbladder inflammation, abdominal pain, fever, and nausea. Early and accurate cholecystitis treatment in a hospital is essential to prevent major complications. There are several different approaches to treatment, and doctors choose the best options based on each patient's symptoms, overall health, and any underlying causes that are discovered. After receiving intravenous fluids and medications to ease their symptoms, most patients need to undergo a surgical procedure called a cholecystectomy to remove their gallbladders. Cholecystectomy may be performed immediately in life-threatening circumstances or several weeks or months after initial cholecystitis treatment if most symptoms resolve.
The main goal of emergency cholecystitis treatment is to stabilize vital signs, lower fever, and stop the spread of infection. Hospitalized patients are given intravenous antibiotics and antiemetic drugs that ease nausea and vomiting. Pain medications, such as morphine, are commonly administered as well. If vomiting and cramps are extensive, a long tube may be inserted through the nose to draw excess bile and fluid out of the stomach. The stomach is usually kept empty for several hours or days until symptoms begin to subside.
Some cases of cholecystitis that are caused by infection clear up completely after about one week of hospital care. In most instances, however, problems persist because gallstones or other obstructions are responsible for symptoms. Patients who have been diagnosed with gallstones but still manage to recover from acute attacks of cholecystitis typically need surgery in a few weeks or months. If a patient's gallbladder is in good shape, he or she may only need a simple endoscopic procedure to dissolve or remove the stones. Cholecystectomy is only necessary if the organ has been permanently, severely damaged.
A non-emergency cholecystectomy can be performed as a laparoscopic procedure, a minimally-invasive operation that is accomplished through three or four very small incisions in the abdomen. A lighted endoscope is inserted through an incision to guide the procedure. The surgeon manipulates scalpels and other instruments through other incisions to remove the gallbladder, cauterize blood vessels, and repair surrounding tissue. After surgical cholecystitis treatment, a patient can expect to spend several weeks in bed and maintain a liquid and soft food diet for at least one month.
If symptoms become life-threatening while the patient is in the hospital, an emergency cholecystectomy may be the only effective cholecystitis treatment. Since the procedure must be performed right away, laparoscopic surgery may not be an option. A surgical team may need to perform an open procedure to quickly uncover and remove the gallbladder. It generally takes longer to recover from open cholecystectomy, and a person might be in the hospital for up to one month. Most people do eventually recover when they seek early treatment and follow their doctors' instructions about follow-up care.
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