Gallstone disease in high-altitude Peruvian rural populations

Am J Gastroenterol. 1999 Jan;94(1):153-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.00787.x.


Objective: Cholelithiasis is a common problem in hospitals of the Peruvian Andes; however, its prevalence in Andean communities is unknown. To estimate the prevalence of gallstone disease in this locale, we conducted a cross-sectional community study in three high-altitude Peruvian rural villages (i.e., > 3000 m above sea level).

Methods: We examined 911 volunteers > 15 yr of age from three villages for gallstone disease by history and ultrasonography. Risk factors for gallstone disease were examined in 382 volunteers from one village.

Results: The age-adjusted prevalence of gallstone disease ranged from 4-10% in men and from 18-20% in women. Women had significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence rates than did men. The prevalence of gallstone disease increased significantly with age and decreased significantly with alcohol consumption. Although not statistically significant, we found a positive association between gallstone disease and body mass index.

Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that gallstone disease, commonly perceived as a disease of the developed world, is also a common problem in high-altitude Peruvian communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Cholelithiasis / epidemiology*
  • Cholelithiasis / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health*