At the turn of the millennium, significant advances continue to be made into the epidemiology and pathophysiology of gallstone disease. The NHANES III study, the largest American population-based study of gallstone disease, estimated that more than 20 million Americans have undergone gallbladder surgery or currently have gallstones. Insulin resistance may be an independent risk factor for gallstone disease. Cholecystokinin receptors may be responsible for the altered motility of the gallbladder smooth muscle, and mucin may play an underestimated role as a pronucleating factor. For the first time, researchers have been able to directly observe cholesterol crystallization in human bile. Improved understanding of the multiple factors involved in the pathogenesis of gallstone disease should lead to new therapeutic and preventive strategies.
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