Gallbladder empyema: An atypical manifestation of acute cholecystitis

Luisa Trujillo-Guerrero, Edgar Javier Aguirre-Salamanca, Camilo Ramírez-Giraldo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction and importance: Acute cholecystitis is responsible for 44 % of emergency admissions to the emergency services with multiple complications such as empyema a necesitatis (EN). EN has a close relation with cholecystitis when the perforation of the gallbladder (GB) can lead to the formation of a biliary fistula. Patients can be asymptomatic, with late consultations, thus being a diagnostic challenge. Different techniques are described for cholecystitis and secondary abscess, therefore, the choice of the appropriate procedure should be the best one to reduce the high associated morbidity. Case presentation: We present a case of an 89-year-old patient, admitted for a sensation of a mass in the right hypochondrium with abdominal pain. He was taken to the operating room, finding a vesicular plastron with piocholecyst and perforation into the abdominal wall with abscess and fasciitis. Subtotal cholecystectomy was performed laparoscopically and an open approach in the abdominal wall, drainage of the abscess and debridement, leaving a negative pressure system. Clinical discussion: EN affects elder patients with high rates of morbidity, also GB empyema, which is related with its perforation and posterior fistulization, its external spontaneous perforation is much less frequent. Fistulas originated from the biliary tract are well described in the literature, with low incidence. They are related with improved diagnostic investigations and earlier implemented treatment by antibiotics and surgery. Conclusion: Biliary EN represents a very unusual complication of acute cholecystitis, its atypical presentation represents a diagnostic challenge, with very few cases documented and high mortality rates. Its management represents a challenge for the general surgeon, finding different approaches and surgical behaviors to take.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108530
Pages (from-to)108530
JournalInternational Journal of Surgery Case Reports
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • Abdominal wall abscess
  • Cholecystitis
  • Empyema necesitatis
  • Gall bladder


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