Risk Factors for Cholelithiasis

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Abstract

Gallstone disease is one of the most common public health problems in the United States. Approximately 10%–20% of the national adult populations currently carry gallstones, and gallstone prevalence is rising. In addition, nearly 750,000 cholecystectomies are performed annually in the United States; direct and indirect costs of gallbladder surgery are estimated to be $6.5 billion. Cholelithiasis is also strongly associated with gallbladder, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer occurrence. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health estimates that almost 3,000 deaths (0.12% of all deaths) per year are attributed to complications of cholelithiasis and gallbladder disease. Although extensive research has tried to identify risk factors for cholelithiasis, several studies indicate that definitive findings still remain elusive. In this review, predisposing factors for cholelithiasis are identified, the pathophysiology of gallstone disease is described, and nonsurgical preventive options are discussed. Understanding the risk factors for cholelithiasis may not only be useful in assisting nurses to provide resources and education for patients who are diagnosed with gallstones, but also in developing novel preventive measures for the disease.

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