Original Research

Risk for Appendicitis, Cholecystitis, or Diverticulitis in Patients With Psoriasis

Author and Disclosure Information

Numerous comorbidities have been associated with psoriasis; however, no studies have considered the relationship between psoriasis and appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis. To determine the incidence rate and hazard risk (HR) ratio of appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis in patients with psoriasis, we compared psoriasis patients with healthy controls from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) health network. The Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to examine the risk for appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis. Patients with psoriasis had a 1.16 times greater risk for developing diverticulitis compared to controls (P<.01). There was no significant difference in risk for developing appendicitis or cholecystitis. Patients with psoriasis may have an elevated risk for diverticulitis compared to the general population and therefore might require additional monitoring by clinicians.

Practice Points

  • Patients with psoriasis may have elevated risk of diverticulitis compared to healthy patients. However, psoriasis patients do not appear to have increased risk of appendicitis or cholecystitis.
  • Clinicians treating psoriasis patients should consider assessing for other risk factors of diverticulitis at regular intervals.



Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition affecting approximately 2% to 3% of the population.1,2 Beyond cutaneous manifestations, psoriasis is a systemic inflammatory state that is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, including obesity,3,4 type 2 diabetes mellitus,5,6 hypertension,5 dyslipidemia,3,7 metabolic syndrome,7 atherosclerosis,8 peripheral vascular disease,9 coronary artery calcification,10 myocardial infarction,11-13 stroke,9,14 and cardiac death.15,16

Psoriasis also has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), possibly because of similar autoimmune mechanisms in the pathogenesis of both diseases.17,18 However, there is no literature regarding the risk for acute gastrointestinal pathologies such as appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis in patients with psoriasis.

The primary objective of this study was to examine if patients with psoriasis are at increased risk for appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis compared to the general population. The secondary objective was to determine if patients with severe psoriasis (ie, patients treated with phototherapy or systemic therapy) are at a higher risk for these conditions compared to patients with mild psoriasis.


Patients and Tools
A descriptive, population-based cohort study design with controls from a matched cohort was used to ascertain the effect of psoriasis status on patients’ risk for appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis. Our cohort was selected using administrative data from Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) during the study period (January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2016).

Kaiser Permanente Southern California is a large integrated health maintenance organization that includes approximately 4 million patients as of December 31, 2016, and includes roughly 20% of the region’s population. The geographic area served extends from Bakersfield in the lower California Central Valley to San Diego on the border with Mexico. Membership demographics, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity composition are representative of California.

Patients were included if they had a diagnosis of psoriasis (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] code 696.1; International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification [ICD-10-CM] codes L40.0, L40.4, L40.8, or L40.9) for at least 3 visits between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2016. Patients were not excluded if they also had a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis (ICD-9-CM code 696.0; ICD-10-CM code L40.5x). Patients also must have been continuously enrolled for at least 1 year before and 1 year after the index date, which was defined as the date of the third psoriasis diagnosis.

Each patient with psoriasis was assigned to 1 of 2 cohorts: (1) severe psoriasis: patients who received UVB phototherapy, psoralen plus UVA phototherapy, methotrexate, acitretin, cyclosporine, apremilast, etanercept, adalimumab, infliximab, ustekinumab, efalizumab, alefacept, secukinumab, or ixekizumab during the study period; and (2) mild psoriasis: patients who had a diagnosis of psoriasis who did not receive one of these therapies during the study period.

Patients were excluded if they had a history of appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis at any time before the index date. Only patients older than 18 years were included.

Patients with psoriasis were frequency matched (1:5) with healthy patients, also from the KPSC network. Individuals were matched by age, sex, and ethnicity.

Statistical Analysis
Baseline characteristics were described with means and SD for continuous variables as well as percentages for categorical variables. Chi-square tests for categorical variables and the Mann-Whitney U Test for continuous variables were used to compare the patients’ characteristics by psoriasis status. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to examine the risk for appendicitis, cholecystitis, or diverticulitis among patients with and without psoriasis and among patients with mild and severe psoriasis. Proportionality assumption was validated using Pearson product moment correlation between the scaled Schoenfeld residuals and log transformed time for each covariate.

Results were presented as crude (unadjusted) hazard ratios (HRs) and adjusted HRs, where confounding factors (ie, age, sex, ethnicity, body mass index [BMI], alcohol use, smoking status, income, education, and membership length) were adjusted. All tests were performed with SAS EG 5.1 and R software. P<.05 was considered statistically significant. Results are reported with the 95% confidence interval (CI), when appropriate.

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