Background: Subjects with irritable bowel syndrome may undergo an excess of cholecystectomy. It is not known, however, whether the cholecystectomy rate parallels an increased risk of gallstones. Aim: Aim was to assess the prevalence and the incidence of gallstones and cholecystectomy in subjects with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms. Subjects and methods: In this population-based study, 29,139 subjects (63.2% of 46,139 randomly selected subjects, age 30-69 years) underwent a physical examination, an interview on gastrointestinal symptoms and an upper abdominal ultrasonography. An identical survey was carried out 7.8 ± 1.0 (M ± S.D.) years later on 8460 gallstone-free subjects at the first survey. Prevalence and incidence of gallstones and cholecystectomy were assessed in subjects with (1) irritable bowel syndrome; (2) abdominal pain and normal bowel; (3) altered bowel and no abdominal pain and (4) asymptomatic controls; univariate and multivariate regression logistic models were used for statistical analysis. Results: Prevalence odds of gallstones and cholecystectomy were significantly higher in irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain and normal bowel than in controls. Irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain and normal bowel subjects were more aware of gallstones than controls (p <0.001), and the prevalence of gallstones in irritable bowel syndrome subjects unaware of their gallbladder status was not significantly different from the controls. The incidence of gallstone disease in irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain and normal bowel, and altered bowel and no abdominal pain subjects did not differ from the controls. The incidence of cholecystectomy was higher in irritable bowel syndrome and abdominal pain and normal bowel groups than in controls and altered bowel and no abdominal pain group. Conclusions: Irritable bowel syndrome subjects have an increased risk of cholecystectomy that is not due to an increased risk of gallstones, but rather to abdominal pain, awareness of having gallstones, and inappropriate surgical indications.
- Irritable bowel syndrome
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