Objectives: The objective of this study was to systematically review the published literature for risk factors associated with adverse outcomes in older adults sustaining blunt chest trauma.
Methods: EMBASE and MEDLINE were searched from inception until March 2017 for prognostic factors associated with adverse outcomes in older adults sustaining blunt chest trauma using a pre-specified search strategy. References were independently screened for inclusion by two reviewers. Study quality was assessed using the Quality in Prognostic Studies tool. Where appropriate, descriptive statistics were used to evaluate study characteristics and predictors of adverse outcomes.
Results: Thirteen cohort studies representing 79,313 patients satisfied our selection criteria. Overall, 26 prognostic factors were examined across studies and were reported for morbidity (8 studies), length of stay (7 studies), mortality (6 studies), and loss of independence (1 study). No studies examined patient quality of life or emergency department recidivism. Prognostic factors associated with morbidity and mortality included age, number of rib fractures, and injury severity score. Although age and rib fractures were found to be associated with adverse outcomes in more than 3 studies, meta-analysis was not performed due to heterogeneity amongst included studies in how these variables were measured.
Conclusions: While blunt chest wall trauma in older adults is relatively common, the literature on prognostic factors for adverse outcomes in this patient population remains inadequate due to a paucity of high quality studies and lack of consistent reporting standards.
Keywords: rib fracture; blunt chest trauma; elderly; outcomes.