Background & Aims: Ulcerative colitis is a debilitating disease for which colectomy is curative. Racial disparities have been described for a wide spectrum of surgical procedures. The goal of this study was to characterize racial and geographic differences in colectomy rates among hospitalized ulcerative colitis (UC) patients. Methods: We analyzed discharge records from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest representative sample of acute care hospitals throughout the United States. A total of 23,389 discharges with UC from 1998-2003 were included for analysis. Colectomy rates, in-hospital mortality, and length of stay were calculated for non-Hispanic whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Results: After adjustment for age, gender, health insurance, comorbidity, and hospital characteristics, the colectomy rate ratios for African Americans and Hispanics compared with whites were 0.46 (95% confidence interval, 0.35-0.60) and 0.74 (95% confidence interval, 0.59-0.93), respectively. African Americans experienced a longer interval between admission and colectomy than whites (8.8 vs 5.6 days, P = .02). There were also significant geographic variations in colectomy, with the West and Midwest regions yielding rates 3-fold higher than the Northeast. Although adjusted in-hospital mortality did not differ by race, Medicaid patients had 3.3-fold higher mortality than those with private insurance. Between 1998 and 2003, the colectomy rate decreased among whites but not African Americans and Hispanics. A temporal narrowing of geographic variation in colectomy was also observed. Conclusions: The rate of colectomy among hospitalized UC patients varies significantly by race and geographic location. Further studies are needed to elucidate the social and biologic underpinnings of these variations.
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