Acute Care Surgery| Volume 286, P57-64, June 2023

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Geographic Variation in Operative Management of Adhesive Small Bowel Obstruction

Published:February 06, 2023DOI:



      Variation in surgical management exists nationally. We hypothesize that geographic variation exists in adhesive small bowel obstruction (aSBO) management.

      Materials and methods

      A retrospective analysis of a national commercial insurance claims database (MarketScan) sample (2017-2019) was performed in adults with hospital admission due to aSBO. Geographic variation in rates of surgical intervention for aSBO was evaluated by state and compared to a risk-adjusted national baseline using a Bayesian spatial rates Poisson regression model. For individual-level analysis, patients were identified in 2018, with 365-d look back and follow-up periods. Logistic regression was performed for individual-level predictors of operative intervention for aSBO.


      Two thousand one hundred forty-five patients were included. State-level analysis revealed rates of operative intervention for aSBO were significantly higher in Missouri and lower in Florida. On individual-level analysis, age (P < 0.01) and male sex (P < 0.03) but not comorbidity profile or prior aSBO, were negatively associated with undergoing operative management for aSBO. Patients presenting in 2018 with a history of admission for aSBO the year prior experienced a five-fold increase in odds of representation (odds ratio: 5.4, 95% confidence interval: 3.1–9.6) in 2019. Patients who received an operation for aSBO in 2018 reduced the odds of readmission in the next year by 77% (odds ratio: 0.23, 95% confidence interval: 0.1–0.5). The volume of operations performed within a state did not influence readmission.


      Surgical management of aSBO varies across the continental USA. Operative intervention is associated with decreased rates of representation in the following year. These data highlight a critical need for standardized guidelines for emergency general surgery patients.


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