Presentations of Gallbladder Stones

Biliary Colic
This is the most common presentation of symptomatic gallstone disease and is due to contraction of the gallbladder behind an obstruction caused by a stone. The patient would experience upper abdominal pain (under the rib cage) that may radiate to the upper back, occurring at least one hour after meals, lasting at least 30 minutes with/without associated nausea and vomiting.

Acute Cholecystitis
Acute cholecystitis results from obstruction of the cystic duct by a gallstone that is complicated by infection. The patient would have the same symptoms as biliary colic with the addition of fever and severe abdominal tenderness.


Operative photograph showing a distended, inflamed gallbladder in acute cholecystitis.

Chronic Cholecystitis
In chronic cholecystitis, patients do not suffer with acute inflammation or biliary colic, but may experience fatty food intolerance with mild pain, acid reflux symptoms or diarrhoea following a fatty meal.