Medicine (MD/DO)
Biliary Disorders
Cholecystitis Assessment

Master Cholecystitis Assessment with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Cholecystitis Assessment

Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Cholecystitis Causes
picmonic thumbnail
Cholecystitis Interventions
picmonic thumbnail
picmonic thumbnail
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Mechanisms
picmonic thumbnail
Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Labs and Treatment

Cholecystitis Assessment

Coal-on-fire-in-gallbladder and Assess-man
Cholecystitis is gallbladder inflammation caused by biliary obstruction or bacteria entering the gallbladder. Bile is produced in the liver and stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. The condition may be acute or chronic depending on the cause (refer to the Picmonic on "Cholecystitis Causes"). Symptoms include right upper quadrant abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, fever, clay colored stools, and jaundice. Instruct the patient to avoid fatty or spicy foods that may exacerbate symptoms. Assess the patient's white blood cell count and monitor for signs of infection. An ultrasound may be used to determine cholecystitis and rule out other possible causes of the patient's symptoms. Refer to the Picmonic on "Cholecystitis Interventions" for further information.
RUQ Pain
RUQ Pain-bolts

As gallstones pass through the cystic duct or common bile duct, they lodge into the ducts and cause obstruction and visceral pain. “Biliary colic” refers to severe and constant pain caused by gallstones obstructing the common bile duct (unlike traditional intestinal colic, which is intermittent from obstructed peristalsis). The patient may experience excruciating pain lasting up to an hour with symptoms of tachycardia, diaphoresis, and prostration. Ingesting a high-fat meal or lying down may induce biliary colic. After the pain subsides, the patient may experience residual tenderness in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen as well as abdominal rigidity.

Referred Shoulder Pain
Ruffled Shoulder Pain-bolt

Acute pain and tenderness associated with cholecystitis is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. The pain often refers to the right shoulder and scapula.

Clay Colored Stools
Stool made of Clay

Since biliary obstruction prevents bilirubin from reaching the small intestine to be converted to urobilinogen, the patient with cholecystitis may excrete clay colored stools.


Obstruction of bile flow into the duodenum impairs liver function and manifests as jaundice. The characteristic symptom of jaundice is yellowing of the skin and sclera. Ultrasound may be performed to determine possible liver dysfunction causing jaundice and clay colored stools in the patient with cholecystitis.

Nausea and Vomiting

The patient with acute cholecystitis may experience nausea and vomiting. Nausea after eating meals is a common symptom of cholecystitis. Administering antiemetics will help alleviate symptoms. After the patient vomits, frequent mouth rinses may be done to provide comfort.

Dyspepsia (Indigestion)

Indigestion is an initial symptom of acute cholecystitis. Dyspepsia or heartburn is a common symptom of chronic cholecystitis.


Manifestations of inflammation related to cholecystitis include fever. The patient with cholecystitis may also have an elevated white blood cell (WBC) count caused by inflammation.

Increased WBCs
Up-arrow White-mac-man

The patient with cholecystitis may exhibit signs of infection such as fever and increased WBC count. Monitoring the patient's temperature and WBC is critical for early detection and treatment of infection.

Fatty or Spicy Foods
Fat Spicy-pepper

Biliary obstruction prevents bile from entering the small intestine for fat digestion. The patient with cholecystitis will develop an intolerance to fatty or spicy foods. Ingesting fatty foods will cause flare ups of biliary colic with symptoms including nausea, anorexia, and a sensation of fullness. The pain frequently occurs 3-6 hours after eating a high-fat meal.


Ultrasound may be performed to diagnose cholelithiasis, or gallstones causing gallbladder inflammation. The diagnostic tool may also be completed to ensure the absence of calcification that may indicate cancer. In patients with cholecystitis, ultrasound is performed to rule out other possible causes of symptoms. The ultrasound may show biliary sludge or gallbladder wall thickening indicating inflammation.


Take the Cholecystitis Assessment Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,890,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.