Obesity increases risk of organ failure after severe trauma

J Am Coll Surg. 2006 Oct;203(4):539-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2006.06.029. Epub 2006 Aug 23.


Background: Obesity is an independent risk factor for a variety of diseases, including postinjury morbidity and mortality. Obesity is associated with a proinflammatory state that could affect the postinjury inflammatory response and increase risk of organ dysfunction. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between obesity and postinjury multiple organ failure (MOF).

Study design: A prospective observational study of patients at risk for postinjury MOF. Inclusion criteria were age older than 15 years, Injury Severity Score > 15, ICU admission within 24 hours of injury, and survival longer than 48 hours after injury. Isolated head injuries were excluded. Organ dysfunction was assessed using the Denver multiple organ failure score.

Results: Data were collected on 716 severely injured patients, 70% were men and 83% were victims of blunt trauma. There was no relationship between body mass index and injury severity or the amount of blood transfused within 12 hours of injury. Postinjury MOF was observed in 123 of 564 (22%) nonobese patients and 56 of 152 (37%) obese patients. Obesity was independently associated with MOF (odds ratio, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.2-2.7) after adjusting for patient age, injury severity, and amount of blood transfused during resuscitation. In this study population, obesity was also associated with increased length of ICU and hospital stay but not death.

Conclusions: Obese patients are at increased risk of postinjury MOF. Study of the obesity-related inflammatory profile could provide additional insight into the pathogenesis of organ dysfunction and identify therapeutic targets for both obese and nonobese patients. Increased morbidity and length of stay in obese trauma patients implies greater resource allocation for this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / complications*