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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Uncommon Presentation of Severe Empyema of the Gallbladder: Case Report and Literature Review

Unusual clinical course, Challenging differential diagnosis, Management of emergency care

Adel Elkbuli, Carol Sanchez, Kyle Kinslow, Mark McKenney, Dessy Boneva

USA Department of Surgery, Kendall Regional Medical Center, Miami, FL, USA

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e923040

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.923040

Available online: 2020-06-09

Published: 2020-07-31


BACKGROUND: Empyema of the gallbladder is a complication of cholecystitis that can develop into sepsis if not treated promptly. Signs and symptoms of gallstone disease are nausea/vomiting, right upper quadrant tenderness, and a history of gallstone disease. With persistence of the obstruction, inflammation and bacterial overgrowth within the gallbladder lumen and tissue may lead to eventual venous congestion, pressure necrosis and even empyema of the gallbladder.
CASE REPORT: A 60-year old male presented with complaints of mild mid-epigastric pain radiating to the back. He denied previous similar history. CT and ultrasound of the abdomen revealed acute cholecystitis. During surgery, it was clear that the imaging did not accurately represent the severity of the infection and he was diagnosed with gallbladder empyema. Surgery was difficult but was successfully finished. The patient’s symptoms and laboratory results normalized by post-operative day 3 and he was discharged. He had no further complications during 2-week follow up.
CONCLUSIONS: Physicians should keep the abnormal presentations of gallbladder empyema in mind and prepare themselves for a presentation different from imaging during surgery. Several prognostic factors including gallbladder wall thickness, gender, white cell count and diabetes mellitus have been associated with severe complicated cholecystitis and empyema of the gallbladder.

Keywords: Cholecystitis, Cholecystitis, Acute, Empyema, Gangrene