Goals: We determined yearly rates of upper and lower gastrointestinal (GI) hospitalizations in Quebec, Canada and compared the 1-year readmission and mortality risks among those discharged from lower versus upper GI hospitalizations.
Background: The burden of serious upper and lower GI events is substantial.
Study: Demographic, medical, pharmaceutical, and hospital records were used in a retrospective cohort study to assess risks of mortality and hospital readmission for upper and lower GI events among patients 50 years and older during 1998 to 2006.
Results: Among included 39,771 GI hospitalizations, 5238 were from 1998 to 1999, and 5050 from 2005 to 2006. Rates of upper GI hospitalizations decreased in the study period, whereas that of lower GI events did not change. The risk of in-hospital mortality was higher in patients with small bowel versus upper GI events [odds ratio 2.11; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.81-2.47] and lower in patients with colon/rectal events 0.30 (0.25-0.36). One-year mortality risk after discharge was lower in patients with lower versus upper GI events (small bowel hazard ratio 0.81; 95% CI, 0.70-0.93; and colon/rectal: 0.77; 95% CI, 0.71-0.83). Compared to upper GI events, the risk of hospital readmission was higher in those with small bowel 1.53 (1.19-1.97) and similar in those with colon/rectal events 1.12 (0.96-1.31).
Conclusions: The risk of upper GI events may be decreasing, but remains over 3 times as high as that of lower GI events and among those admitted for GI events, about 80% of in-hospital mortality occurred in those with upper GI problems. Although GI events in the small bowel are less frequent than those in upper or lower GI tract, they are the most severe and are associated with higher risks of mortality and hospital readmissions.