Which Abdominal Symptoms are Associated with Clinical Events in a Population Unaware of Their Gallstones? a Cohort Study

Daniel Mønsted Shabanzadeh, Lars Tue Sørensen, Torben Jørgensen
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Official Journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2017, 21 (5): 831-839

BACKGROUND: High rates of persistent symptoms are found following cholecystectomy in patients with gallstones. The aim of this population based cohort study was to determine which symptoms were associated with the development of clinical gallstone events in a population unaware of their gallstones.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Three random population samples from Copenhagen (N = 6037) were examined with ultrasound during 1982-1994. Participants were not informed about gallstone status. Abdominal symptoms were assessed at baseline through a questionnaire. Follow-up for clinical events was performed through central registers until 2011. Multivariable Cox regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Participants unaware of their gallstones (N = 595) were followed for median 17.5 years. A total of 16.6% participants developed clinical events. Both uncomplicated and complicated events were associated with high pain intensity at baseline. Complicated events were also associated with pain at night. Uncomplicated events were associated with pain localized in the epigastrium, of longer duration, and in need of pain medication. No associations were identified for dyspepsia or irritable bowel syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: In a population of unaware gallstone carriers, it was possible to identify abdominal symptoms associated with later clinical detection of the gallstones. These finding may contribute to a better selection of patients for surgery.

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