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J Am Coll Surg. 2007 Sep;205(3):445-52. Epub 2007 Jun 27.

Insurance status, but not race, predicts perforation in adult patients with acute appendicitis.

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Department of Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, USA.



Delay in treatment is a strong risk factor for perforation during acute appendicitis. In addition, lower socioeconomic status has been linked to impaired access to surgical care. We sought to examine the relationships among race, insurance status, and perforation in a recent, adult population with acute appendicitis.


Data on adult patients with acute appendicitis were abstracted from the New York State Statewide Planning and Cooperative Systems Database for the years 2003 and 2004. A multiple logistic regression model, which adjusted for patient, community, and hospital factors, was used to examine the independent effects of both race and insurance status on likelihood of perforation.


A total of 29,637 patients had acute appendicitis; 7,969 (26.9%) of these were perforated. Although Caucasian patients were more likely to perforate compared with minority patients, by univariate analysis, adjustment for age alone eliminated this disparity. In addition, by multivariable analysis, no difference existed in odds of perforation for Caucasian patients compared with African-American (odds ratio [OR]=1.03, 95% CI [0.93, 1.15], p=0.52), Hispanic (OR=0.99, 95% CI [0.90, 1.08], p=0.82), or Asian patients (OR=0.85, 95% CI [0.73, 1.00], p=0.05). But compared with privately insured patients, uninsured patients (OR 1.18, 95% CI [1.07 to 1.30], p=0.0005), Medicaid patients (OR=1.22, 95% CI [1.12 to 1.33], p < 0.0001), and Medicare patients (OR=1.14, 95% CI [1.03, 1.25], p=0.01) were significantly more likely to have perforation.


Race does not appear to be an important variable in predicting perforation in adult patients with acute appendicitis, but the likelihood of perforation varies significantly according to insurance status. Future research is necessary to both understand and have an impact on this socioeconomic disparity.

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