Objectives:  Epistaxis is a common ENT complaint. Although casual observation suggested that it is more common in Caucasian, compared with Asian people, a literature search failed to find any studies investigating ethnicity and epistaxis. The aim of this study was to identify any differences in emergency admission rates for epistaxis between Asian and Caucasian people.

Design:  Retrospective observational study using hospital computerised data (HISS).

Setting:  Large University Hospital accepting ENT emergencies.

Participants:  All Asian and Caucasian patients admitted under ENT care as an emergency (1 January 2000 to 30 November 2005), split into two groups: one composed of epistaxis patients, the other of all other ENT emergency admissions.

Main outcomes measures:  The proportions of Asian and Caucasian patients among the two patient groups, either epistaxis admissions or other ENT emergency admissions.

Results:  The proportions of Asian and Caucasian patients in the group admitted with emergency epistaxis were 7.1% (100/1410) and 92.9% (1310/1410) respectively. However, the proportions of Asian and Caucasian patients in the group composed of any other ENT emergency were 13.2% (729/5515) and 86.8% (4786/5515), respectively (chi-squared P < 0.01).

Conclusions:  Caucasian people form an unexpectedly large, and Asians a smaller proportion of emergency epistaxis admissions. The possibility of an ethnic risk factor for epistaxis warrants further investigation.