The influence of alexithymia on persistent symptoms of dyspepsia after laparoscopic cholecystectomy

Piero Porcelli, Dionigi Lorusso, Graeme J. Taylor, R. Michael Bagby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether preoperative alexithymia might play a role in the persistence of gastrointestinal symptoms after laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Methods: A sample of 52 consecutive patients with gallstone disease and symptoms of dyspepsia were assessed with validated scales for alexithymia (20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale), and psychological (90-item Symptom Checklist) and gastrointestinal (GI) (Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale) symptoms before surgery. GI symptoms were evaluated also one year after surgery. Change from preoperative to postoperative GI symptoms and level of GI symptoms after surgery were used to form groups of improved (n = 31) and unimproved (n = 21) patients. Results: Unimproved patients had significantly higher preoperative alexithymia, psychological distress, and gastrointestinal symptom scores than patients who had improved. Regression analyses showed that alexithymia predicted the persistence of gastrointestinal symptoms more strongly than did psychological distress, even after controlling for preoperative gastrointestinal symptoms. Conclusion: Alexithymia played a substantial and predictive role in the persistence of GI symptoms in gallstone patients after surgery. Treatment planning and outcome of gallstone disease might be improved by preoperative assessment of alexithymia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • Alexithymia
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Dyspepsia
  • Gallstone disease
  • Psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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