Emergency department utilization and predictors of mortality for inpatient inguinal hernia repairs

Ambar Mehta, Susan Hutfless, Alex B. Blair, Anirudh Dwarakanath, Chet I. Wyman, Gina Adrales, Hien Tan Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Although inguinal hernias are common surgical diagnoses, minimally symptomatic patients are often not scheduled for repairs and are asked to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms. We investigated factors associated with emergency department (ED) utilization for inguinal hernia repairs and determined whether ED utilization affected mortality for this otherwise electively treated condition. Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of the 2009-2013 Nationwide Inpatient Sample to identify patients who presented through the ED and were then admitted for unilateral inguinal hernia repairs. Multivariable logistic regressions that adjusted for several patient and hospital characteristics determined predictors of both ED admission and postoperative mortality. Results There were 116,357 inpatient hospitalizations. The majority (57%) resulted from ED admissions, of which most (85%) had a diagnosis of obstruction or gangrene. Notable predictors of ED admission from the multivariable analysis included obstruction (odds ratio, 9.77 [95% confidence interval: 9.05-10.55]), gangrene (18.24 [13.00-25.59]), Black race (1.47 [1.29-1.69]), Hispanic ethnicity (1.35 [1.18-1.54]), self-pay (2.29 [1.97-2.66]) and Medicaid insurance (1.76 [1.50-2.06]). While overall mortality decreased from 2.03% in 2009 to 1.36% in 2013, admission through the ED was independently associated with higher mortality compared with elective repair (1.67 [1.21-2.29]), even after adjusting for the diagnosis of obstruction and gangrene. Other predictors of mortality included patient age and comorbidities. Conclusions In our study, Black, Hispanic, and self-pay patients were more likely to present through the ED. After adjusting for obstruction or gangrene, simply presenting through the ED was independently associated with a 67% higher postoperative mortality rate compared with that of an elective operation. Our findings suggest both a difference in ED utilization and subsequent difference in mortality by patient race and ethnicity and insurance for this common surgical condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)270-277
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - May 15 2017


  • Emergency department
  • Inguinal hernia
  • Inpatient
  • Mortality
  • Nationwide inpatient sample

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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