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Objectives.  —To examine temporal trends and geographic variation in radical prostatectomy rates and short-term outcomes.

Design.  —Population-based study of radical prostatectomy for the years 1984 through 1990. Poisson regression was used to estimate temporal and regional effects.

Setting.  —The 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Participants.  —A 20% national sample of male Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Rate of radical prostatectomy; 30-day mortality; and major cardiopulmonary complications, vascular complications, or surgical repairs within 30 days of radical prostatectomy.

Results.  —A total of 10598 radical prostatectomies were identified. The adjusted rate of radical prostatectomy in 1990 was 5.75 times that in 1984. The relative increase was similar in all age groups. Substantial geographic variation existed in rates from 1988 through 1990: all states in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions had rates equal to or below 60 per 100 000 male Medicare beneficiaries, while all states in the Pacific and Mountain regions had rates equal to or above 130 per 100 000. The mortality and morbidity after radical prostatectomy are not trivial for older men (aged 75 years and older)—almost 2% died and nearly 8% suffered major cardiopulmonary complications within 30 days of the operation.

Conclusion.  —The sharp increase and wide geographic variation in radical prostatectomy rates make the evaluation of this surgical procedure a pressing issue. The rising rate of radical prostatectomy among men aged 75 years and older merits special attention.(JAMA. 1993;269:2633-2636)