AIM To investigate the current state of research output from Chinese studies into severe ulcerative colitis (SUC) using a bibliometric analysis of publications. METHODS The contents of the Chinese periodical databases WANFANG, VIP, and China National Knowledge Infrastructure were searched for all papers regarding UC or SUC published in last the 15 years (from 2001 to 2015). The number of publications in each year was recorded to assess the temporal trends of research output. All SUC related publications were downloaded and the complexity of this research was evaluated with methods described previously. The number of patients with SUC reported each year was recorded and their clinical characteristics were analyzed using information available in the relevant papers. RESULTS There were 13499 publications regarding UC published in Chinese medical journals between 2001 and 2015, of which 201 focused on SUC. The number of publications increased rapidly with more than half of all papers being published in the most recent 5-year period. There was a significant increase in analytical studies and clinical trials over the study period (P < 0.01), with research into the management of SUC, included pharmacotherapy, nutrition support as well as surgery, predominating. Almost half (46.2%) of the observational analytical studies and clinical trials focused on Traditional Chinese Medicine, with little research on the efficacy of cyclosporin and infliximab in disease management. About 6222 patients with SUC were reported in the 201 SUC relevant papers, with a ratio of male/female of 1.38. The number of patients reported in each 5-year period significantly increased. The colectomy rate and short-term mortality rate were 7.7% and 0.8% respectively. The most commonly employed operation was total proctocolectomy with ileal pouch-anal anastomosis. CONCLUSION The output and complexity of research related to SUC in China increased significantly over the previous 15 years, however few of these studies focused on salvage therapy.
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