Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Risk factors associated with symptomatic cholelithiasis in Taiwan: a population-based study

Shih-Chang Hung19, Kuan-Fu Liao23, Shih-Wei Lai45, Chia-Ing Li46* and Wen-Chi Chen78

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Nantou Hospital, Nantou, 540, Taiwan

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Taichung Tzu Chi General Hospital, Taichung, 427, Taiwan

3 School of Medicine, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, 970, Taiwan

4 School of Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

5 Department of Family Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

6 Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

7 School of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

8 Department of Urology, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

9 Department of Public Health, China Medical University, Taichung, 404, Taiwan

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BMC Gastroenterology 2011, 11:111  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-11-111

Published: 17 October 2011



Cholelithiasis has become a major health problem in Taiwan. The predominant type of gallstone found in Asian populations differs from that in the West, indicating possible differences in the etiology and risk factors for cholelithiasis. The aim of this study is to investigate the risk factors for cholelithiasis using data representative of the general population.


We performed a population-based, case-control study in which we analyzed medical data for 3725 patients newly diagnosed with cholelithiasis and 11175 gender- and age-matched controls with no history of cholelithiasis, using information obtained from the 2005 Registry for Beneficiaries of the National Health Insurance Research Database. Coexisting medical conditions were included in the analysis. Relative risks were estimated by adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) using a multivariate logistic regression analysis.


After controlling for the other covariates, multivariate logistic regression analysis identified the following as risk factors for cholelithiasis (in descending order of contribution): Among all patients - hepatitis C (OR = 2.78), cirrhosis (OR = 2.47), hepatitis B (OR = 2.00), obesity (OR = 1.89), and hyperlipidemia (OR = 1.54); Among women - hepatitis C (OR = 3.05), cirrhosis (OR = 1.92), obesity (OR = 1.91), menopause (OR = 1.61), hepatitis B (OR = 1.54), and hyperlipidemia (OR = 1.49). Diabetes mellitus appeared to have a marked influence on the development of cholelithiasis but was not identified as a significant independent risk factor for cholelithiasis.


The risk factors for cholelithiasis were obesity, hyperlipidemia, hepatitis B infection, hepatitis C infection, and cirrhosis in both genders, and menopause in females. Despite differences in the predominate type of gallstone in Asian versus Western populations, we identified no unique risk factors among the population of Taiwan.

cholelithiasis; hepatitis B; hepatitis C; hyperlipidemia; menopause; obesity