Having complications of portal hypertension is a harbinger of decompensated cirrhosis and warrants consideration for liver transplantation (LT). Racial disparities in LT have been reported. We sought to characterize disparities in the performing of surgical and endoscopic procedures among hospitalized patients with complications of portal hypertension. We queried the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 1998 to 2003 to identify patients with cirrhosis and complications of portal hypertension. Logistic regression controlling for confounders was used to evaluate race as a predictor of undergoing a portosystemic shunt and LT and of dying in the hospital. Compared to whites, the adjusted odds ratios of receiving a portosystemic shunt were 0.37 (95% CI: 0.27-0.51) and 0.69 (95% CI: 0.54-0.88) for African Americans (AAs) and Hispanics, respectively. AAs with variceal bleeding were more likely to have endoscopic variceal hemostasis delayed more than 24 hours after admission than were whites (OR 1.6; 95% CI: 1.2-2.1). The adjusted odds ratios of undergoing LT were 0.32 (95% CI.: 0.20-0.52) and 0.46 (95% CI: 0.25-0.83) for AAs and Hispanics, respectively. Compared to whites, AAs experienced higher in-hospital mortality (OR 1.12; 95% CI: 1.01-1.24), whereas Hispanics had a lower risk of death (OR 0.83; 95% CI: 0.75-0.92). Among variceal bleeders, the odds ratio of death for AAs was 1.7 (95% CI: 1.2-2.4) compared to whites. Conclusion: AAs and Hispanics hospitalized for complications of portal hypertension were less likely to undergo a palliative shunt or LT than whites, which may contribute to the higher in-hospital mortality of AAs. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the mechanisms of these exploratory findings.
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