What are the physical findings of cholecystitis?

Updated: May 20, 2021
  • Author: Alan A Bloom, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The physical examination may reveal fever, tachycardia, and tenderness in the RUQ or the epigastric region, often with guarding or rebound. The Murphy sign, which is specific but not sensitive for cholecystitis, is described as tenderness and an inspiratory pause elicited during palpation of the RUQ. A palpable gallbladder or fullness of the RUQ is present in 30%-40% of cases. Jaundice may be noted in approximately 15% of patients.

The absence of physical findings does not rule out the diagnosis of cholecystitis. Many patients present with diffuse epigastric pain without localization to the RUQ. Patients with chronic cholecystitis frequently do not have a palpable RUQ mass secondary to fibrosis involving the gallbladder.

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