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Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Jan 15;141(2):158-65.

Epidemiology of gallstone disease in Italy: prevalence data of the Multicenter Italian Study on Cholelithiasis (M.I.COL.)


This study was designed to obtain a general overview of gallstone disease in Italy. A total of 18 cohorts in 10 Italian regions were enrolled in this survey. Four cohorts were excluded from analysis because of a participation rate of less than 50 percent. Field activities started in December 1984 and terminated in April 1987. A precoded questionnaire was administered to each subject by a trained member of the medical staff. Participants underwent an ultrasonographic examination of the upper abdomen and blood sampling. Each research group was provided with an identical ultrasonographic machine. Standardized criteria were established for both the examination and diagnosis. The inter- and intraobserver variation in the ultrasonographic procedure was assessed using a reliability study. The overall kappa score for interobserver agreement was good (0.649), while intraobserver agreement was good or excellent (kappa scores > 0.60) in 75 percent of the observers. A total of 29,739 of the 46,139 (64.4 percent) enrolled subjects were examined. Among those with a clear-cut definition of the gallbladder status, 6.5 percent of the males and 10.5 percent of the females had gallstones. Additional 3.0 and 8.4 percents, respectively, had already undergone cholecystectomy. Prevalence of gallstone disease (gallstones plus cholecystectomy) increased linearly with age in both sexes. Among subjects with gallstones, 76.7 percent of men and 72 percent of women were not aware of having gallstones; 87.0 percent of men and 84.9 percent of women were asymptomatic. This study confirms that gallstone disease is a highly prevalent condition. Gallstones rarely cause symptoms, and subjects are mostly unaware of their presence.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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