Gallstone disease is a worldwide medical problem, but the incidence rates show substantial geographical variation, with the lowest rates reported in African populations. Publications in English language on gallstones which were obtained from reprint requests and PubMed database formed the basis for this paper. Data extracted from these sources included authors,
country, year of publication, age and sex of patients, pathogenesis, risk factors for development of gallstones, racial distribution, presenting symptoms, complications and treatment. Gallstones occur worldwide, however it is commonest among North American Indians and Hispanics but low in Asian and African populations. High biliary protein and lipid concentrations are risk factors for the formation of gallstones, while gallbladder sludge is thought to be the usual precursor of gallstones. Biliary calcium concentration plays a part in bilirubin precipitation and gallstone calcification. Treatment of gallstones should be reserved for those with symptomatic disease, while prophylactic cholecystectomy
is recommended for specific groups like children, those with sickle cell disease and those undergoing weight.loss surgical treatments. Treatment should be undertaken for a little percentage of patients with gallstones, as majority of those who harbor them never develop symptoms. The group that should undergo cholecystectomy include those with symptomatic gallstones, sickle cell disease patients with gall stones, and patients with
morbid obesity who are undergoing laparotomy for other reasons.
Keywords: Cholecystectomy, dissolution therapy, gallstones, risk factors