Investigating the link between frailty and outcomes in geriatric patients with isolated rib fractures

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Trauma surgery & acute care open








frailty; geriatrics; rib fractures


BACKGROUND: Studies have shown an increased risk of morbidity in elderly patients suffering rib fractures from blunt trauma. The association between frailty and rib fractures on adverse outcomes is still ill-defined. In the current investigation, we sought to delineate the association between frailty, measured using the Orthopedic Frailty Score (OFS), and outcomes in geriatric patients with isolated rib fractures. METHODS: All geriatric (aged 65 years or older) patients registered in the 2013-2019 Trauma Quality Improvement database with a conservatively managed isolated rib fracture were considered for inclusion. An isolated rib fracture was defined as the presence of ≥1 rib fracture, a thorax Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) between 1 and 5, an AIS ≤1 in all other regions, as well as the absence of pneumothorax, hemothorax, or pulmonary contusion. Based on patients' OFS, patients were classified as non-frail (OFS 0), pre-frail (OFS 1), or frail (OFS ≥2). The prevalence ratio (PR) of composite complications, in-hospital mortality, failure-to-rescue (FTR), and intensive care unit (ICU) admission between the OFS groups was determined using Poisson regression models to adjust for potential confounding. RESULTS: A total of 65 375 patients met the study's inclusion criteria of whom 60% were non-frail, 29% were pre-frail, and 11% were frail. There was a stepwise increased risk of complications, in-hospital mortality, and FTR from non-frail to pre-frail and frail. Compared with non-frail patients, frail patients exhibited a 87% increased risk of in-hospital mortality [adjusted PR (95% CI): 1.87 (1.52-2.31), p<0.001], a 44% increased risk of complications [adjusted PR (95% CI): 1.44 (1.23-1.67), p<0.001], a doubling in the risk of FTR [adjusted PR (95% CI): 2.08 (1.45-2.98), p<0.001], and a 17% increased risk of ICU admission [adjusted PR (95% CI): 1.17 (1.11-1.23), p<0.001]. CONCLUSION: There is a strong association between frailty, measured using the OFS, and adverse outcomes in geriatric patients managed conservatively for rib fractures.