What are the signs and symptoms of cholecystitis?

Updated: May 20, 2021
  • Author: Alan A Bloom, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The most common presenting symptom of acute cholecystitis is upper abdominal pain. The following characteristics may be reported:

  • Signs of peritoneal irritation may be present, and the pain may radiate to the right shoulder or scapula

  • Pain frequently begins in the epigastric region and then localizes to the right upper quadrant (RUQ)

  • Pain may initially be colicky but almost always becomes constant

  • Nausea and vomiting are generally present, and fever may be noted

Patients with acalculous cholecystitis may present with fever and sepsis alone, without the history or physical examination findings consistent with acute cholecystitis.

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