Although cirrhosis is a known risk factor for gallstones, little is known about gallbladder disease (GBD) in individuals with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We determined the association between chronic HCV infection and GBD in a representative sample of adults in the United States. Data on HCV infection and GBD were available for 13,465 persons 20 to 74 years of age who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The presence of GBD (gallstones or cholecystectomy) was determined using abdominal ultrasonography, and HCV infection was assessed via a positive HCV antibody test and a positive HCV RNA test. Overall, 1.6% of adults (95% CI, 1.1-2.1) had chronic HCV infection and 12.5% (95% CI, 11.3-13.7) had GBD. After adjusting for potential confounding variables, the odds of gallstones (OR = 3.20; 95% CI, 1.08-9.45) and cholecystectomy (OR = 4.57; 95% CI, 1.57-13.27) among HCV-positive men was significantly higher compared with HCV-negative men. In contrast, the adjusted odds of gallstones (OR =2.55; 95% CI, 0.58-11.25) and cholecystectomy (OR = 0.70; 95% CI, 0.21-2.37) among HCV-positive women was not significantly higher. The odds of GBD increased significantly with the severity of liver disease as assessed via elevated serum bilirubin levels and low levels of serum albumin and platelets. In conclusion, chronic HCV infection was strongly associated with GBD among men but not women in the United States, and GBD was more common in adults with severe liver disease.
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