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Vol. 33, No. 4, 1986
Issue release date: 1986
Digestion 1986;33:189–197

Epidemiology of Gallstones in a German Industrial Town (Essen) from 1940–1975

Balzer K. · Goebell H. · Breuer N. · Rüping K.W. · Leder L.D.
Division of Gastroenterology, Medical Department and Institute of Pathology, University of Essen, FRG

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The prevalence of gallstones was studied in 11,840 consecutive autopsies from 1940 to 1975 in the University hospitals of Essen. The total prevalence was 20.7%: 13.1 % for men and 33.7% for women. The male to female sex ratio is 1 : 2.6. The crude prevalence for three 12-year periods showed a significant increase from 8.2 to 15% in men and from 25.7 to 36.3% in women ( p < 0.001). A detailed analysis showed that this increase occurred only in the age groups over 60 and was the consequence of the fact that a greater proportion of women over 60 came to autopsy. The age- and sex-specific morbidity ratio was calculated to standardize the data. This demonstrated considerable fluctuations in 3-year periods since 1940. It can be concluded that no real increase in the prevalence of gallstones occurred in the last 30 years.

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