Abdominal symptoms and food intolerance related to gallstones

J Clin Gastroenterol. 1998 Oct;27(3):223-31. doi: 10.1097/00004836-199810000-00009.


We have evaluated the association between gallstones and abdominal symptoms, comparing two different study designs. We asked questions on abdominal pain, dyspeptic symptoms, and food intolerance in (1) surgery patients referred for conditions unrelated to gallstones, screened by ultrasound (screening study, n = 892, 63 with gallstones); and in (2) symptomatic patients referred for gallbladder ultrasound (clinical study, n = 336, 71 with gallstones). Gallstones were associated with mid upper abdominal pain in the screening study, and with mid upper abdominal pain, biliary pain, and colic (each independently) in the clinical study. When these symptoms were absent (and only dyspeptic symptoms or food intolerance was present), gallstones were not more common than expected from the general population prevalence (estimated from the screening study). When upper abdominal pain symptoms are accounted for, other symptoms (dyspeptic; food intolerance; pain related to food intake) have no additional diagnostic value. The results are discussed, contrasting different types of studies.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biliary Tract Diseases / etiology
  • Cholelithiasis / complications*
  • Cholelithiasis / diagnostic imaging
  • Cholelithiasis / surgery
  • Colic / etiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dyspepsia / etiology*
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography