Inpatient Palliative Care Is Less Utilized in Rare, Fatal Extrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma: A Ten-Year National Perspective

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health





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Background—Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC) is a rare, morbid, fatal cancer with distressing symptoms. Maintaining a high quality of life while reducing hospital charges and length of stay (LOS) for the end-of-life period remains a major challenge for the healthcare system. Palliative care utilization has been shown to address these challenges; moreover, its use has increased in recent years among cancer patients. However, the utilization of palliative care in rare cancers, such as ECC, has not yet been explored. Objectives—To investigate palliative care utilization among ECC patients admitted to US hospitals between 2007 and 2016 and its association with patient demographics, clinical characteristics, hospital charges, and LOS. Methods—De-identified patient data of each hospitalization were retrieved from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. Codes V66.7 (ICD-9-CM) or Z51.5 (ICD-10-CM) were used to find palliative care utilization. Multivariate adjusted logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess factors associated with palliative care use, LOS, hospital charges, and in-hospital death. Results—Of 4426 hospitalizations, only 6.7% received palliative care services. Palliative care utilization did not significantly increase over time (p = 0.06); it reduced hospital charges by USD 25,937 (p < 0.0001) and LOS by 1.3 days (p = 0.0004) per hospitalization. Palliative care was positively associated with female gender, severe disease, and age group ≥80 (p ≤ 0.05). The average LOS was 8.5 days for each admission. Conclusions—Hospital admissions with palliative care utilization had lower hospital charges and LOS in ECC. However, ECC patients received less palliative care compared with more common cancers sharing similar symptoms (e.g., pancreatic cancer). ECC patients also had longer LOS compared with the national average. Further research is warranted to develop interventions to increase palliative care utilization among ECC hospital patients.


Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; Hospital charges; LOS; Palliative care; Public health


Gastroenterology | Health Services Administration | Palliative Care




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