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HKCEM College Tutorial. A Lady with Right Upper Quadrant P ain. Author Dr. LEE KF, Dr. TANG CO, Dr. TAM MK Revised by DR CHAN CHI MING May 2013. Triage Notes. F/75 c/o: RUQ pain for 1 day PMH: DM, IHD, old PTB BP 172/78 P 96/min T 37.8 ºC. Triage Cat III.

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a lady with right upper quadrant p ain

HKCEM College Tutorial

A Lady with Right Upper Quadrant Pain



Revised by


May 2013

triage notes
Triage Notes
  • F/75
  • c/o: RUQ pain for 1 day
  • PMH: DM, IHD, old PTB
  • BP 172/78
  • P 96/min
  • T 37.8 ºC

Triage Cat III

what are your differential diagnosis
What are your differential diagnosis ?
  • Cholecystitis
  • Cholangitis
  • Liver abscess
  • PPU
  • Basal pneumonia
  • AMI…

What would you like to ask in the history ?

  • Fever & system review
  • CVS ischemia
  • Resp cough…
  • GU renal colic
  • PMH
  • Current med
  • Drug allergy
  • Pain = PQRST
    • Place RUQ
    • Quality constant
    • Radiate to scapula
    • Severity e.g. pain score
    • Time for one day
  • GI symptoms
    • N, V, D,
    • Jaundice, tea color urine
physical findings
Physical Findings
  • A fat lady with T 37.8°C
  • No pallor or jaundice
  • A palpable globular shape mass at RUQ of abdomen
  • Murphy’s sign positive
  • Other systems essentially normal
what is murphy s sign
What is Murphy’s sign ?
  • Murphy’s sign is a reliable sign of acute cholecystitis
  • The patient is asked to take a deep breath while the examiner palpates the gallbladder region
  • The breath catches at the zenith of inspiration as the inflamed gallbladder moves down into contact with the examining hand
  • Elicit tenderness Positive


what is courvoisier s law
What is Courvoisier’s law ?
  • Courvoisier’s law states that
      • if the gallbladder is palpable in the presence of jaundice, the jaundice is unlikely to be due to stone
what is charcot s triad
What is Charcot’s triad ?

= RUQ pain + pyrexia + jaundice

  • It suggests a diagnosis of cholangitis
what are the findings
What are the findings ?


  • RUQ opacity likely gallstone
  • No pneumobilia
  • No dilated bowel
  • Clear lung fields
  • No free gas
x ray

CXR (erect film)

  • to look for free gas under diaphragm, which may be caused by PPU or perforated gallbladder in case of acute cholecystitis


  • to look for calcified lesion suggesting gallstone
  • Also look for sign of IO (gall stone ileus in case of acute cholecystitis)
  • Only 15% of stones contain enough calcium to be seen on a plain film
  • Ultrasound is a much more sensitive test for gallstone


  • Hb 12 g/dL
  • WCC 12 x10^9 /L


  • Urea 6.2 mmol/L
  • Cr 76 umol/L


  • Bili 12 umol/L
  • ALT 57 U/L
  • ALP 40 U/L

Amylase 89 U/L

Tn-I < 0.03 mmol/L

Glucose / H’stix 13.7 mmol/L


AF with ventricular rate of about 90/min

no acute ischemic changes

what are the findings1
What are the findings ?


Thickened GB wall & peri-cholecystic fluid

Distended Gallbladder

Gallstone with echogenic foci & posterior acoustic shadow

what are the findings2
What are the findings ?


  • Echogenic foci with posterior acoustic shadowing suggesting gallstones
  • Distended gallbladder
  • Gallbladder wall thickened
  • Peri-cholecystic fluid
  • Positive sonographic Murphy’s sign
      • Not demonstrate in the picture

Compatible with acute cholecystitis

  • Also look for:
  • Ductal dilatation (CBD & intrahepatic) to exclude cholangitis
  • Liver tumor as hepatitis B is prevalent in our locality
  • Sub-hepatic fluid collection (abscess)

US demonstration



  • What is positive sonographic Murphy’s sign?
  • What are the sonographic diagnostic criteria for acute cholecystitis?

Positive sonographic Murphy’s sign —tenderness elicited by pressing the gallbladder with the US probe

what are the sonographic diagnostic criteria for acute cholecystitis
What are the sonographic diagnostic criteria for acute cholecystitis ?

Major diagnostic criteria:

  • Positive sonographic Murphy’s sign
  • Loss of definition of gallbladder margins
  • Thickening of the gallbladder wall > 3 mm
  • Linear or irregular hypoechoic areas within the wall
  • Peri-cholecysticfluid
  • Intramural gas

Minor criteria:

  • Distended gallbladder
  • Presence of calculi or sludge

(5% of cases are not associated with gallstones)

(If patient does not have ascites, chronic liver disease & right heart failure)

(Indicative of impending perforation)




  • Resuscitate if necessary
  • Analgesia
  • Admit to surgical unit for further management
treatment after admission
Treatment after admission


  • Confirm the diagnosis by blood tests, formal USG (by radiologist)
  • Conservative treatment (include: NPO, IV fluid, antibiotics, NG suction if appropriate)
      • 90% of cases will settle
  • Close monitor for complications:
      • sepsis, empyema, gangrene & perforation
  • Surgical treatment
      • laparoscopic or open cholecystectomy
  • If medically not fit for GA, may perform percutaneous cholecystostomy
the end
The End

Any Questions ?