Published online Feb 27, 2012. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v4.i2.18
Revised: November 15, 2011
Accepted: February 24, 2012
Published online: February 27, 2012
Gallstone disease (GD) is a chronic recurrent hepatobiliary disease, the basis for which is the impaired metabolism of cholesterol, bilirubin and bile acids, which is characterized by the formation of gallstones in the hepatic bile duct, common bile duct, or gallbladder. GD is one of the most prevalent gastrointestinal diseases with a substantial burden to health care systems. GD can result in serious outcomes, such as acute gallstone pancreatitis and gallbladder cancer. The epidemiology, pathogenesis and treatment of GD are discussed in this review. The prevalence of GD varies widely by region. The prevalence of gallstone disease has increased in recent years. This is connected with a change in lifestyle: reduction of motor activity, reduction of the physical load and changes to diets. One of the important benefits of early screening for gallstone disease is that ultrasonography can detect asymptomatic cases, which results in early treatment and the prevention of serious outcomes. The pathogenesis of GD is suggested to be multifactorial and probably develops from complex interactions between many genetic and environmental factors. It suggests that corticosteroids and oral contraceptives, which contain hormones related to steroid hormones, may be regarded as a model system of cholelithiasis development in man. The achievement in the study of the physiology of bile formation and the pathogenesis of GD has allowed expanding indications for therapeutic treatment of GD.