Background and aim: The aim of this study of a large cohort of consecutive patients with diabetes mellitus was to investigate the still controversial questions concerning the prevalence and possible risk factors of gallstone disease in diabetics.
Patients and methods: We enrolled 1337 consecutive patients (710 males aged 63 +/- 11 years and 627 females aged 65 +/- 11 years), of whom 1235 (92%) had type 2 and 102 (8%) had type 1 diabetes mellitus. The data were statistically analysed using multiple logistic regression analysis.
Results: The prevalence of gallstone disease was significantly higher in diabetics than in the general population with comparable characteristics (MICOL study) (332/1337 (24.8%) versus 4083/29684 (13.8%); z = 11.208, P = 0.0001) and this difference maintained its statistical significance even when only the North Italian centers involved in this nation-wide survey were considered (332/1337 (24.8%) versus 2469/18091 (13.6%); z = 11.225, P = 0.0001). A total of 332 diabetics (25%) had gallstone disease: 261 had stone(s) and 71 had previously undergone cholecystectomy for gallstone disease after a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus. The prevalence of gallstone disease was higher in the females (29% versus 22%, P = 0.003), and increased with age (13, 20 and 30% in patients aged < or = 40, 41-65 and > 65 years, respectively; P = 0.001), body mass index (24% in patients with a body mass index of < or = 30 and 30% in those with a body mass index of > 30 kg/m2; P = 0.001) and a positive family history of gallstone disease (31% versus 23%; P = 0.001). Gallstone disease was not significantly related to the type of diabetes, plasma total and HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, alcohol intake, smoking habits, physical activity, weight reduction in the last year, the use of oral contraceptives, parity or menopause. At multivariate analysis, increasing age, a higher body mass index and a positive family history maintained their statistical significance.
Conclusions: In patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes mellitus, the prevalence of gallstone disease was significantly related to age, body mass index and a family history of gallstone disease.