Incidence of Appendicitis over Time: A Comparative Analysis of an Administrative Healthcare Database and a Pathology-Proven Appendicitis Registry

Stephanie Coward, Subrata Ghosh

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IMPORTANCE: At the turn of the 21st century, studies evaluating the change in incidence of appendicitis over time have reported inconsistent findings.

OBJECTIVES: We compared the differences in the incidence of appendicitis derived from a pathology registry versus an administrative database in order to validate coding in administrative databases and establish temporal trends in the incidence of appendicitis.

DESIGN: We conducted a population-based comparative cohort study to identify all individuals with appendicitis from 2000 to2008.

SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: Two population-based data sources were used to identify cases of appendicitis: 1) a pathology registry (n = 8,822); and 2) a hospital discharge abstract database (n = 10,453).

INTERVENTION & MAIN OUTCOME: The administrative database was compared to the pathology registry for the following a priori analyses: 1) to calculate the positive predictive value (PPV) of administrative codes; 2) to compare the annual incidence of appendicitis; and 3) to assess differences in temporal trends. Temporal trends were assessed using a generalized linear model that assumed a Poisson distribution and reported as an annual percent change (APC) with 95% confidence intervals (CI). Analyses were stratified by perforated and non-perforated appendicitis.

RESULTS: The administrative database (PPV = 83.0%) overestimated the incidence of appendicitis (100.3 per 100,000) when compared to the pathology registry (84.2 per 100,000). Codes for perforated appendicitis were not reliable (PPV = 52.4%) leading to overestimation in the incidence of perforated appendicitis in the administrative database (34.8 per 100,000) as compared to the pathology registry (19.4 per 100,000). The incidence of appendicitis significantly increased over time in both the administrative database (APC = 2.1%; 95% CI: 1.3, 2.8) and pathology registry (APC = 4.1; 95% CI: 3.1, 5.0).

CONCLUSION & RELEVANCE: The administrative database overestimated the incidence of appendicitis, particularly among perforated appendicitis. Therefore, studies utilizing administrative data to analyze perforated appendicitis should be interpreted cautiously.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0165161
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2016


  • Appendicitis


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