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Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Jun;90(6):927-32.

The cause of death in inflammatory bowel disease: a comparison of death certificates and hospital charts in Rochester, New York.

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  • 1Genesee Hospital, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, USA.



This study examines the causes of death from Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis by comparing death certificates with hospital charts as part of an ongoing, community-based analysis in Rochester, NY.


A registry of 1358 inflammatory bowel disease patients followed from January 1973 to December 1989 was analyzed for the cause of death by a study of death certificates as well as by a study of hospital records, including surgical pathology and autopsy records. A panel of physicians defined specific criteria for diagnosis, cause of death, and relation of death to inflammatory bowel disease.


One hundred and thirty patients (59 with ulcerative colitis and 71 with Crohn's disease) from the registry were found to have death certificates recorded by Monroe County during this period. There was an 80% concordance of the death certificate to the hospital record for the cause of death and its relationship to inflammatory bowel disease. Discordance was noted in cases of colon cancer and surgical complications.


Sixty-eight percent of Crohn's disease and 78% of ulcerative colitis patients died from causes unrelated to their inflammatory bowel disease. Deaths caused by Crohn's disease decreased from 44% in the 1973-1980 period to 6% in the 1981-1989 period. Crohn's disease was a direct cause of death in 25% of the female patients, whereas only 6% of male patients died directly of Crohn's disease. Colorectal cancer caused 14% of the deaths in ulcerative colitis patients, three times more often than in Crohn's disease patients. Excluding cancer, there were only two deaths directly due to ulcerative colitis, both in the first 2 yr after diagnosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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