Gallbladder hydrops

Dr Craig Hacking and Dr Matt A. Morgan et al.

Gallbladder hydrops refers to marked dilatation of the gallbladder due to chronic obstruction of the cystic duct resulting in accumulation of sterile non-pigmented mucin.

Abdominal pain with palpable gallbladder without any signs of infection. In an asymptomatic patient, it likely is related to fasting. 

Chronic obstruction of the cystic duct results in accumulation of the sterile non-pigmented mucin in a distended gallbladder which sometimes can reach to the pelvis. Causes include:

  • impacted stone
  • tumours or polyps 
  • extrinsic compression by tumour, lymph node, or fibrosis
  • Kawasaki disease
  • parasites e.g. ascariasis
  • >4 cm transverse measurement
  • >9 cm longitudinal measurement
  • straight or convex borders

If seen on CT without an explanation, it is followed up with ultrasound if the patient has biliary colic symptoms.

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Article information

rID: 35239
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Distended gallbladder
  • Distension of the gallbladder
  • Dilated gallbladder
  • Dilatation of the gallbladder

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