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The outcome of fractures in very elderly patients

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We compared case-mix and outcome variables in 1310 patients who sustained an acute fracture at the age of 80 years or over. A group of 318 very elderly patients (≥ 90 years) was compared with a group of 992 elderly patients (80 to 89 years), all of whom presented to a single trauma unit between July 2007 and June 2008. The very elderly group represented only 0.6% of the overall population, but accounted for 4.1% of all fractures and 9.3% of all orthopaedic trauma admissions. Patients in this group were more likely to require hospital admission (odds ratio 1.4), less likely to return to independent living (odds ratio 3.1), and to have a significantly longer hospital stay (ten days, p = 0.01).

The 30- and 120-day unadjusted mortality was greater in the very elderly group. The 120-day mortality associated with non-hip fractures of the lower limb was equal to that of proximal femoral fractures, and was significantly increased with a delay to surgery > 48 hours for both age groups (p = 0.04). This suggests that the principle of early surgery and mobilisation of elderly patients with hip fractures should be extended to include all those in this vulnerable age group.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr N. D. Clement; e-mail: nickclement@doctors.org.uk

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