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An increasing trend in geriatric trauma patients undergoing surgical stabilization of rib fractures.

  • Author(s): Duong, William;
  • Grigorian, Areg;
  • Nahmias, Jeffry;
  • Farzaneh, Cyrus;
  • Christian, Ashton;
  • Dolich, Matthew;
  • Lekawa, Michael;
  • Schubl, Sebastian
  • et al.


The proportion of geriatric trauma patients (GTPs) (age ≥ 65 years old) with chest wall injury undergoing surgical stabilization of rib fractures (SSRF) nationally is unknown. We hypothesize a growing trend of GTPs undergoing SSRF, and sought to evaluate risk of respiratory complications and mortality for GTPs compared to younger adults (18-64 years old) undergoing SSRF.


The Trauma Quality Improvement Program (2010-2016) was queried for patients with rib fracture(s) who underwent SSRF. GTPs were compared to younger adults. A multivariable logistic regression analysis was performed.


From 21,517 patients undergoing SSRF, 3,001 (16.2%) were GTPs. Of all patients undergoing SSRF in 2010, 10.6% occurred on GTPs increasing to 17.9% in 2016 (p < 0.001) with a geometric-mean-annual increase of 11.5%. GTPs had a lower median injury severity score (18 vs. 22, p < 0.001), but had a higher rate of mortality (4.7% vs. 1.2%, p < 0.001). After controlling for covariates, GTPs had an increased associated risk of mortality (OR 4.80, CI 3.62-6.36, p < 0.001). On a separate multivariate analysis for all trauma patients with isolated chest Abbreviated Injury Scale 3, GTPs were associated with a similar four-fold risk of mortality (OR 4.21, CI 1.98-6.32, p < 0.001).


Spanning 7 years of data, the proportion of GTPs undergoing SSRF increased by over 7%. Although GTPs undergoing SSRF had lesser injuries, their risk of mortality was four times higher than other adult trauma patients undergoing SSRF, which was similar to their increased background risk of mortality. Ultimately, SSRF in GTPs should be considered on an individualized basis with careful attention to risk-benefit ratio.

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