An Appraisal of Trauma in the Elderly

Sharma, Om P.; Oswanski, Michael F.; Sharma, Vijay; Stringfellow, Kathryn; Raj, Shekhar S.
April 2007
American Surgeon;Apr2007, Vol. 73 Issue 4, p354
Academic Journal
To review the trends of trauma in the elderly experienced at our trauma center compared with other Level I trauma centers. This was a retrospective trauma registry analysis (1996-2003) of 2783 blunt trauma in elderly (BTE) and 4568 adult (BTA) patients in a Level 1 trauma center. Falls and motor vehicular crashes were the most common mechanisms noted in 47 per cent and 31 per cent (84% and 13% in BTE, 25% and 42% in BTA). BTE were sicker, with higher Injury Severity Scores (ISS), lengths of stay, and mortality (5% vs 2%, P value < 0.05). ISS was 5.2-fold higher in nonsurvivors to survivors in BTA and 2.4-fold in BTE. Elevation in ISS resulted in higher linear increase in mortality in BTE (vs BTA) at any ISS level. Mortality in patients with ISS ≥ 25 was 43.5 per cent vs 23.8 per cent. ISS ≥ 50 had 31 per cent adult survivors but no elderly survivors. Among isolated injuries, head trauma in the elderly carried the highest mortality, at 12 per cent (19% in patients with an Abbreviated Injury Score ≥3). Abdominal injuries were the most lethal (18.3% and 41.2% in patients with an Abbreviated Injury Score ≥3) in multiple trauma victims (41% vs 18% in isolated trauma). There was 4.4-fold increased mortality in the presence of thoracic trauma. Combined head, chest, and abdominal trauma carried the worst prognosis. Thirty-four per cent of BTE and 88 per cent of BTA patients were discharged home. Elderly patients need more aggressive therapy, as they are sicker with higher mortality.


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