Prevalence and ethnic differences in gallbladder disease in the United States

Gastroenterology. 1999 Sep;117(3):632-9. doi: 10.1016/s0016-5085(99)70456-7.


Background & aims: Gallbladder disease is one of the most common conditions in the United States, but its true prevalence is unknown. A national population-based survey was performed to determine the age, sex, and ethnic distribution of gallbladder disease in the United States.

Methods: The third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted gallbladder ultrasonography among a representative U.S. sample of more than 14, 000 persons. The diagnosis of gallbladder disease by detection of gallstones or cholecystectomy was made with excellent reproducibility.

Results: An estimated 6.3 million men and 14.2 million women aged 20-74 years had gallbladder disease. Age-standardized prevalence was similar for non-Hispanic white (8. 6%) and Mexican American (8.9%) men, and both were higher than non-Hispanic black men (5.3%). These relationships persisted with multivariate adjustment. Among women, age-adjusted prevalence was highest for Mexican Americans (26.7%) followed by non-Hispanic whites (16.6%) and non-Hispanic blacks (13.9%). Among women, multivariate adjustment reduced the risk of gallbladder disease for both Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic blacks compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Conclusions: More than 20 million persons have gallbladder disease in the United States. Ethnic differences in gallbladder disease prevalence differed according to sex and were only partly explained by known risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gallbladder Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallbladder Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Gallbladder Diseases / ethnology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data