BACKGROUND: Little research has been performed on the impact of race/ethnicity and obesity on the course of diverticulitis. PURPOSE: To determine whether patients of different racial/ethnic backgrounds and patients who are obese have disparate courses of disease with regard to complications, recurrence rates, and need for surgery. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective review of the charts of 347 patients with confirmed diverticulitis in 2 university teaching hospitals at Bronx, NY. RESULTS: African Americans were more likely [odds ratio (OR), 2.28, 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.04-5.00, P=0.04] and Hispanics were less likely than other racial/ethnic groups (OR, 0.47; 95% CI, 0.22-0.97; P=0.04) to require surgery for recurrent diverticulitis after at least 1 medically managed hospital admission for diverticulitis. Caucasians were less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to suffer a recurrence of diverticulitis (OR, 0.48; 95% CI, 0.27-0.86; P=0.01). Obese patients [body mass index (BMI) >30] were more likely than nonobese patients to experience a recurrent episode of diverticulitis (OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.08-2.64; P=0.02). The odds of requiring surgery on the initial presentation of diverticulitis were not significantly different among the various races/ethnicities nor was the likelihood of surgery influenced by BMI. Complication rates did not differ significantly when patients were stratified by age, sex, race, BMI, or number of prior episodes of diverticulitis. CONCLUSIONS: Surgery for diverticulitis after at least 1 medically managed hospital admission for diverticulitis is more frequently needed in African Americans and less frequently needed in Hispanics. Caucasians are less likely than other races/ethnicities to suffer a recurrence of diverticulitis. Finally, obesity is a risk factor for recurrent diverticulitis, but not for surgical therapy of diverticulitis.
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