Background: There are only a few Swedish studies on the prevalence of gallstone disease in selected age groups, and none including possible risk factors.
Methods: Of a population sample of 1200 individuals (age, 35-85 years), 857 participated in the study. The study subjects were asked to answer a questionnaire about potential risk factors (occupation, childbirth, life style, and so forth), symptoms, and quality of life. Cholecystectomy had previously been done in 115 subjects, leaving 742 for ultrasound examination of the gallbladder.
Results: The prevalence of gallstone disease increased with age, and at 75 years or more, 53% of the women and 32% of the men either had gallstones or had previously undergone cholecystectomy (32% and 13%, respectively). When comparing subjects with and without gallstones, there were no differences with regard to any variable, including blood lipid levels. The odds ratio of previous cholecystectomy was increased in subjects with an occupation requiring no specific education and reduced in subjects using wine or spirits every week. The odds ratio of abdominal pain was increased after previous cholecystectomy. Women in this group also experienced a lower quality of life.
Conclusions: The age and sex distribution of gallstone disease was in the order of the magnitude seen in other Scandinavian countries. None of the studied variables differed between subjects with and without gallstones. Subjects previously operated on with cholecystectomy did worse with regard to symptoms and quality of life.