Imaging-based algorithmic approach to gallbladder wall thickening

World J Gastroenterol. 2020 Oct 28;26(40):6163-6181. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i40.6163.


Gallbladder (GB) wall thickening is a frequent finding caused by a spectrum of conditions. It is observed in many extracholecystic as well as intrinsic GB conditions. GB wall thickening can either be diffuse or focal. Diffuse wall thickening is a secondary occurrence in both extrinsic and intrinsic pathologies of GB, whereas, focal wall thickening is mostly associated with intrinsic GB pathologies. In the absence of specific clinical features, accurate etiological diagnosis can be challenging. The survival rate in GB carcinoma (GBC) can be improved if it is diagnosed at an early stage, especially when the tumor is confined to the wall. The pattern of wall thickening in GBC is often confused with benign diseases, especially chronic cholecystitis, xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis, and adenomyomatosis. Early recognition and differentiation of these conditions can improve the prognosis. In this minireview, the authors describe the patterns of abnormalities on various imaging modalities (conventional as well as advanced) for the diagnosis of GB wall thickening. This paper also illustrates an algorithmic approach for the etiological diagnosis of GB wall thickening and suggests a formatted reporting for GB wall abnormalities.

Keywords: Acute cholecystitis; Cholecystitis; Gallbladder diseases; Neoplasms; Rokitansky-Aschoff sinuses of the gallbladder; Xanthogranulomatous cholecystitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholecystitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Gallbladder / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Ultrasonography