Declining Rates of Surgery for Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the Era of Biologic Therapy

J Gastrointest Surg. 2020 Nov 2. doi: 10.1007/s11605-020-04832-y. Online ahead of print.

Sarina C Lowe 1, Jenny S Sauk 2, Berkeley N Limketkai 2, Mary R Kwaan 3


Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, 757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA, 90095, USA. SCLowe@mednet.ucla.edu.
  • 2Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
  • 3Department of Surgery, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Background: Medical therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has markedly advanced since the introduction of biologic therapeutics, although surgery remains an important therapeutic strategy for both Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). This study evaluated how rates of bowel resection surgery and post-operative mortality for IBD have changed over the last decade in the era of biologic therapies.

Methods: The Nationwide Readmission Database (NRD) was queried for patients with IBD (based on ICD-9 and -10 diagnosis and procedure codes) who were hospitalized between 2010 and 2017. Longitudinal trends in bowel resection surgery, urgent surgery, and post-operative mortality were analyzed.

Results: During the 8-year period, a total of 1795,266 IBD-related hospitalizations (1,072,110 with CD and 723,156 with UC) were evaluated. There was an increase in the annual number of IBD patients hospitalized, but a statistically significant decrease in the proportion of IBD patients undergoing surgery, from 10 to 8.8% (p < 0.001) for CD and 7.7 to 7.5% (p < 0.001) for UC. From 2014 through 2017, the proportion of urgent surgeries remained stable around 25% (p = 0.16) for CD and decreased from 21 to 14% (p < 0.001) for UC. For CD, the rate of post-operative 30-day mortality varied between 1.2 and 1.6% and for UC decreased from 5.8 to 2.3% (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Analysis of a nationwide dataset from 2010 to 2017 determined that despite an increase in total admissions for IBD, a smaller proportion of hospitalized patients underwent surgery. A greater proportion of surgeries for UC were performed on an elective basis, and overall the rates of post-operative mortality for CD and UC decreased. The growth of biologic medical therapy during the study period highlights a probable contributing factor for the observed changes.

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