Outcomes for Ulcerative Colitis With Delayed Emergency Colectomy Are Worse When Controlling for Preoperative Risk Factors

Dis Colon Rectum. 2019 May;62(5):600-607. doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000001276.


Background: Increasing evidence supports immediate colectomy in acute fulminant ulcerative colitis in comparison with ongoing medical management. Prior studies have been limited to inpatient-only administrative data sets or single-institution experiences.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare outcomes of early versus delayed emergency colectomy in patients admitted with ulcerative colitis flares while controlling for known preoperative risks and acuity.

Design: This is a cohort study of patients undergoing emergent total abdominal colectomies for ulcerative colitis compared by the timing of surgery.

Setting: Adult patients undergoing an emergent total abdominal colectomy for ulcerative colitis, 2005 to 2015, were identified in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database.

Patients: Patients undergoing total abdominal colectomy with an operative indication of ulcerative colitis admitted on a nonelective basis were selected.

Main outcome measure: The primary outcomes measured were 30-day National Surgical Quality Improvement Program-reported mortality and postoperative complications, and early operation within 2 days of admission.

Results: We identified 573 total abdominal colectomies after propensity score matching. Median time to surgery was 1 hospital day in the early group versus 6 hospital days in the delayed group (p < 0.001). Early operation was associated with a lower mortality rate (4.9% versus 20.3% in matched groups, p < 0.001) and lower complication rate (64.5% versus 72.0%, p = 0.052). Multivariable logistic regression with propensity weighting of mortality on preoperative risk factors demonstrated that early surgery is associated with an 82% decrease in the odds of death compared with delayed surgery (p < 0.001). Regression of morbidity on preoperative risk factors demonstrated that early surgery is associated with a 35% decrease in the odds of a complication with delayed surgery (p = 0.034).

Limitations: Quality improvement data were used for clinical research questions.

Conclusions: Patients undergoing immediate surgical intervention for acute ulcerative colitis have decreased postoperative complications and mortality rates. Rapid and early transitioning from medical to surgical management may benefit those expected to require surgery on the same admission. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/A800.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / surgery*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Emergencies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Symptom Flare Up
  • Time Factors
  • Time-to-Treatment / statistics & numerical data*