Background: Most evidence guiding perioperative medical risk management of patients undergoing hip fracture repair focuses on cardiac and thromboembolic risk. Little is known of the relative clinical importance of other complications.
Objective: To systematically map incidence and outcomes of a broad spectrum of medical complications after hip fracture repair.
Methods: Retrospective cohort study of patients 60 years or older in 20 academic, community, and Veterans Affairs hospitals. Data on complications and mortality were abstracted from medical records by trained abstractors using standardized, pretested forms or the National Death Index.
Results: Of 8930 patients, 1737 (19%) had postoperative medical complications. Cardiac and pulmonary complications were most frequent (8% and 4% of patients, respectively). Similar numbers of patients had serious cardiac or pulmonary complications (2% and 3%, respectively). Other complications were gastrointestinal tract bleeding (2%), combined cardiopulmonary complications (1%), venous thromboembolism (1%), and transient ischemic attack or stroke (1%). Renal failure and septic shock were rare. After the index complication, 416 patients had 587 additional complications. Mortality was similar for serious cardiac or pulmonary complications (30 day: 22% and 17%, respectively; 1 year: 36% and 44%, respectively) and highest for patients with multiple complications (30 day: 29%-38%; 1 year: 43%-62%). Complications and death occurred significantly earlier for serious cardiac than for serious pulmonary complications (1 vs 4 days, 2 vs 8 days, P<.001); length of stay for patients surviving these complications was similar.
Conclusions: Most patients had no medical complications after hip fracture repair. Serious cardiac and pulmonary complications were equally important in frequency, mortality, and survivors' length of stay. Patients with multiple complications had especially poor prognosis.