PloS one

Chemical characterization of gallstones: an approach to explore the aetiopathogenesis of gallstone disease in Sri Lanka.

PMID 25853583


Records on gallstones and associated ailments in Sri Lankan community are scarce, despite frequent detection of gallstone disease. Identification of the chemical composition of gallstones in the local setting is important in defining aetiopathogenic factors which in turn are useful in implementing therapeutic and preventive strategies. This study aimed to describe the chemical composition of gallstones and the socio-demographic factors of a cohort of Sri Lankan patients with gallstone disease. Data on clinical and socio-demographic factors, and gallstones removed at surgery were collected from patients with cholelithiasis admitted to Teaching Hospital, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka from May 2011 to December 2012. External and cross sectional morphological features of gallstones were recorded by naked eye observation. Compositional analysis was carried out by Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, X - ray Powder Diffraction, and Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry. Scanning Electron Microscopy was used to identify the microstructure of gallstones. Data of 102 patients were analyzed. Of them majority (n = 77, 76%) were females with a female: male ratio of 3:1. Mean age of the study group was 46.1±11.6 years. All the patients had primary gallbladder stones. According to the physical and chemical analysis, majority (n = 54, 53%) were pigment gallstones followed by mixed cholesterol gallstones (n = 38, 37%). Only 10 (9%) had pure cholesterol gallstones. Calcium bilirubinate, calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate were the commonest calcium salts identified in pigment gallstones and core of mixed cholesterol gallstones. Presence of a pigment nidus in gallstones is a common feature in majority of Sri Lankan patients denoting the possible role of elevated unconjugated bilirubin in bile on the pathogenesis of GS. Hence it is imperative to explore this further to understand the aetiopathogenesis of GS among Sri Lankans.