Appendicectomy, tonsillectomy, and inflammatory bowel disease: a case-control record linkage study

L M Kurina, M J Goldacre, D Yeates, V Seagroatt
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2002, 56 (7): 551-4

STUDY OBJECTIVE: To determine whether appendicectomy and tonsillectomy are associated with ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn's disease (CD); and, if so, whether the associations are related to age at operation.

DESIGN: Nested case-control studies using a longitudinal database of linked hospital and death record abstracts.

SETTING: Southern England.

PATIENTS: Statistical records of people diagnosed with UC, CD, or a control condition admitted to hospitals in a defined area.

MAIN RESULTS: Appendicectomy under the age of 20 years was associated with a significantly reduced subsequent risk of UC (relative risk =0.48, 95% confidence interval 0.30 to 0.73). The association appeared strongest for appendicectomy between 10 and 14 years of age (relative risk =0.29, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.68). Appendicectomy at the age of 20 years and over was associated with an increased subsequent risk of CD (relative risk =1.92, 95% CI 1.58 to 2.32), largely confined to those people whose CD was diagnosed within a year of appendicectomy. Appendicectomy under 20 years of age, undertaken five years or more before case or control conditions, was suggestively associated with a reduced risk of CD (relative risk =0.71, 95% CI 0.47 to 1.03). Prior tonsillectomy was not associated with any increase or decrease of risk of either UC or CD.

CONCLUSIONS: Appendicectomy is associated with a reduced risk of UC; and the association is specific to young age groups when the population risk of appendicitis is itself highest. The increased risk of CD after appendicectomy, at short time intervals between the two, is probably attributable to the misdiagnosis of CD as appendicitis.

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