Objectives. To estimate the annual rate of discharge for prostatectomy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in black and white men from 1980 to 1994 using the National Hospital Discharge Survey. Methods. Overall and race- , age-, and year-specific utilization rates were estimated for the civilian population in the United States. Length of stay was calculated for each discharge, and the results were plotted over time. An expected number of discharges based on the rates observed in 1980 was estimated to determine the impact of decreased prostatectomy rates on the number of procedures that would have been expected in this aging population. Results. Discharge rates for whites were within a narrow range (233.2 to 274.5 per 100,000) from 1980 through 1990 and then displayed a monotonic decline after 1991 to 131.3 per 100,000 in 1994. Rates for blacks were 10% to 24% lower from 1980 to 1991; the decline in discharge rates began in 1993 for blacks, and by 1994 the racial gap had closed. Length of stay decreased throughout the period but length of stay averaged 30% longer for blacks throughout. On the basis of the observed rates of 1980, there were more than 140,000 fewer prostatectomies performed for BPH in 1994 than would have been expected owing to the aging of the population. Conclusions. These data demonstrate that the black/white differences in prostatectomy for BPH that were observed in the 1980s have disappeared in recent years. Furthermore, rates have declined dramatically in all age- and race-specific groups. Further work is needed to determine whether this convergence in discharge rates is due to equalization of access to medical care or to differences in utilization of alternative therapies.
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