Clinical Characteristics of Ulcerative Colitis in Singapore, a Multiracial City–State


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Abstract

BackgroundUlcerative colitis (UC) is rare in Asia. Singapore is an ethnically heterogeneous city–state with a population made up of Chinese (77%), Indians (7.5%), and Malays (14%). This study describes and compares the characteristics of Chinese, Malay, and Indian patients with UC.StudyRetrospective chart review was performed of 235 patients seen in the largest tertiary care hospital in Singapore between 1971 and June 2000.ResultsThere were 169 (72%) Chinese, 24 (10%) Malays, and 42 (18%) Indians with UC. Male-to-female ratio was 1.8:1 (150:85). Most patients in all three races presented between the ages of 20 and 39 years. No bimodal peak in the age at presentation was seen. The median period from onset of symptoms to diagnosis was 1 month in all three races. More Malay (57%) and Indian (55%) patients had colitis extending proximal to splenic flexure at presentation compared with Chinese (32%) patients (p = 0.04). There were more Indian patients (29%) with severe disease at onset compared with Chinese (12%) and Malay (22%) patients (p = 0.035). Thirty-one percent of patients had only one episode of colitis, 12% were steroid dependent, and 4% were steroid refractory. Proctocolectomy was needed in 31 (18.3%) Chinese, 3 (12.5%) Malay, and 4 (9.5%) Indian patients. Extraintestinal manifestations were found in 6% of the Chinese, 12% of Malay patients, and 14% of Indian patients. The most common extraintestinal manifestation was arthritis, present in 6.4% of patients.ConclusionThere were more Indians with UC than expected in this population. Whereas Indian and Malay patients have more extensive and severe disease at presentation than Chinese patients, this does not predict for more refractory disease or a greater need for surgery.

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