The gallbladder is a small organ beneath the liver that stores bile that helps the digestive system break down fats. According to statistics, about 20% of healthy adults can have gallbladder diseases, such as gall stones, acute cholecystitis, cancer, trauma, and other complications of gallstones. The National Center for Biotechnology Information data shows that 10 to 20 percent of Americans will likely develop stones in the gallbladder. It is widely prevalent among the United States population affecting about 20 million people. Cholecystectomy or surgical removal of the gallbladder has remained the treatment of choice for gallbladder diseases.
About 80% of patients who have gallstones will need surgery. According to the American College of Surgeons, about 700,000 gallbladder surgeries are done yearly to treat gallstones. The procedure is mostly done in patients older than age 65 years. If gallstones are left untreated, it may result in more serious problems, like gallbladder inflammation, pancreatitis, or cholangitis.
At what age do gallbladder problems occur?
According to John Hopkins Medicine, people over 60 years old are more likely to have gallstones.
Gallbladder diseases may occur at any age. But it occurs 4 to 10 times more prevalent in the older population. Age is a major risk factor for the formation of gallstones. US Pharmacist website publication about Gallstones: Aging and Medications Increase Risk show that 22% of men have gallstones by age 90. 50% to 70% of acute cholecystitis occurs in adults ages 50 years old and above.
As early as 20 years old, women are already susceptible to developing gallstones.
Cholecystectomy cases ratio of females to males was 12 to 1. Women’s hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, play a significant role in developing gall stones at an early age. The production of estrogen from pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control pills can increase biliary cholesterol levels that lead to stone formation in the gallbladder.
What age group has the highest gallbladder surgery?
60 years old and above has the highest number of gallbladder surgery.
According to research and medical journals, seniors have the highest risk of developing gallbladder diseases, and 80% are more likely to have surgery. The increase in gallbladder diseases among the elderly is caused by the degenerating function of the gallbladder. In addition, as the human body ages, the secretion of cholesterol into the bile duct also increases, thus resulting in gallstone formation due to a higher concentration of cholesterol in the gall bladder.
How common is cholecystectomy?
NCBI record shows 1.2 million cholecystectomies done annually.
Although doctors can use non-surgical treatments to treat cholesterol stones (e.g., Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, oral dissolution therapy with bile acids, Percutaneous cholecystostomy, and gallstone extraction), surgery remained the first-line treatment for complicated gallstones. The non-surgical treatment often has limited or uncertain benefits. Sometimes non-surgical treatment could ultimately lead to surgery. According to NCBI, there are about 1.2 million who have their gallbladders surgically removed because of gallbladder diseases.
How many percent of young adults has gallstones?
Boston Children’s Hospital suggests that about 2 percent of children are diagnosed with gallstones
Although it is more common in adults, the likelihood of developing gallstones and other gallbladder diseases has increased in the past decades. It is commonly associated with childhood obesity. Obese children have lessened bile salts in bile. Therefore, less cholesterol can stay dissolved in the gallbladder. Obesity also delays the gallbladder emptying rate, which ultimately triggers the development of gallbladder stones. Also, rapid weight loss or “Crash diets” metabolize fats rapidly, which triggers the liver to secret more cholesterol into the bile.
Pubmed study show that gallbladder surgery is likely to happen to children due to obesity
Although older people have a higher prevalence of developing gallbladder problems, anyone can get it, even the younger population. Cholecystectomy or gallbladder surgery is rarely performed at younger ages. However, it is associated with several conditions, such as obesity and overweight. According to Pubmed studies with 24 selected subject groups from 143 reported cases, 41.7% of patients were obese or overweight, which is greater in female patients (52.9%).
What are the top causes of gallstones in young adults?
Cholesterol stones account for 80% of gallstones
According to a John Hopkins University study regarding gallstone diseases, cholesterol stones account for 80 percent of all gallstone cases in the US, compared to pigment stones which develop due to liver conditions, such as cirrhosis or biliary tract infections.
High cholesterol is often associated with obesity or overweight. Sustained high cholesterol levels will develop cholesterol stones as the bile hardens. The formation of cholesterol stones also happens in sudden weight loss due to crash diets and fasting. This sends signals to the liver and triggers the creation of more cholesterol. These factors contribute to the risk of developing cholesterol stones build-up in the gallbladder.