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Colectomy rates for ulcerative colitis (UC) have been inconsistently reported. We assessed temporal trends of colectomy rates for UC, stratified by emergent vs. elective colectomy indication.From 1997 to 2009, we identified adults hospitalized for a flare of UC. Medical charts were reviewed. Temporal changes were evaluated using linear regression models to estimate the average annual percent change (AAPC) in surgical rates. Logistic regression analysis compared: (i) UC patients responding to medical management in hospital to those who underwent colectomy; (ii) UC patients who underwent an emergent vs. elective colectomy; and (iii) temporal trends of drug utilization.From 1997 to 2009, colectomy rates significantly dropped for elective colectomies with an AAPC of −7.4% (95% confidence interval (CI): −10.8%, −3.9%). The rate of emergent colectomies remained stable with an AAPC of −1.4% (95% CI: −4.8%, 2.0%). Azathioprine/6-mercaptopurine prescriptions increased from 1997 to 2009 (odds ratio (OR)=1.15; 95% CI: 1.09–1.22) and infliximab use increased after 2005 (OR=1.68; 95% CI: 1.25–2.26). A 13% per year risk adjusted reduction in the odds of colectomy (OR=0.87; 95% CI: 0.83–0.92) was observed in UC patients responding to medical management compared with those who required colectomy. Emergent colectomy patients had a shorter duration of flare (<2 weeks vs. 2–8 weeks, OR=5.31; 95% CI: 1.58–17.81) and underwent colectomy early after diagnosis (<1 year vs. 1–3 years, OR=5.48; 95% CI: 2.18–13.79).From 1997 to 2009, use of purine anti-metabolites increased and elective colectomy rates in UC patients decreased significantly. In contrast, emergent colectomy rates were stable, which may have been due to rapid progression of disease activity.