Gallstones--an increasing problem: a study of hospital admissions in England between 1989/1990 and 1999/2000

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Feb 15;17(4):561-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2003.01439.x.


Background: The number of operations for cholelithiasis increased from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Aims: To determine the time trends in cholelithiasis for hospital admissions, operations and in-hospital case fatalities in England between 1989/1990 and 1999/2000, and population mortality rates between 1979 and 1999.

Methods: Hospital Episode Statistics for admissions were obtained from the Department of Health and mortality data were obtained from the Office for National Statistics.

Results: Between 1989/1990 and 1999/2000, age-standardized hospital admission rates for cholelithiasis increased by 30% for males and 64% for females. The proportions of admissions undergoing an operation declined progressively over the study period. In 1999/2000, the frequency of operation was approximately 50-60% for most age groups, but decreased progressively with advancing age at > or = 65 years. The proportions of admissions undergoing therapeutic endoscopy increased several-fold, especially amongst older individuals. Case fatality rates declined. Mortality rates declined from 1979 to 1988, but showed no further change from 1989 to 1999.

Conclusions: There has been a steady increase in admission rates for cholelithiasis over the study period. Whilst the frequency of operation has declined, the proportion of patients undergoing therapeutic endoscopy has increased.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholelithiasis / mortality*
  • Cholelithiasis / surgery
  • Endoscopy, Digestive System
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors