Euthyroid sick syndrome in hip fractures: Evaluation of postoperative anemia

Injury. 2020 Aug:51 Suppl 3:S9-S12. doi: 10.1016/j.injury.2020.07.006. Epub 2020 Jul 3.


Introduction: Incidence of hip fractures is increasing with upward estimates representing one of the most current health problems. According to some authors this condition is associated with an early mortality rate ranging between 20% and 35% and low outcomes. One of the predictive factors of poor outcome after hip fracture is anaemia. In fragile patients, hormonal changes due to fracture and surgical trauma, may occur in the hypophyseal hypothalamus axis which may lead to the Euthyroid Sick Syndrome (ESS). This pathological condition is characterized by a reduction in the concentration of triiodothyronine (T3) with normal or slightly reduced thyrotropin (TSH) values and with or without a reduction (cancellata) ​​of thyroxine (T4). ESS has been associated to an increased mortality in elderly patients.

Materials and methods: Inclusion criteria were: age > 65y, X-ray diagnosis of proximal femoral fracture classified as AO 31A or 31B requiring surgical treatment, admittance to the emergency room within 72 hours from trauma. Exclusion criteria were: any thyroid-related pathology, concomitant acute coronary syndrome, active pneumonia, concomitant neoplastic disease, assumption of medications able to affect thyroid function, refusal to undergo surgical treatment. All patients underwent routine blood testing and a complete thyroid-hormone profile dosage before surgical operation. The same blood tests performed before surgical operation were repeated on the first and third post-operative days.

Results: Thirtytwo patients met the inclusion criteria and were enrolled after they accepted to participate to the study. Sixteen patients presented with ESS on admission and 16 patients did not. The mean age was 82,5 yo. There was no statistically significant difference in bleeding risk factors among the two groups. In the ESS group there was a number of blood transfusions of 1.06 units higher than the control group (p=0.01).

Conclusions: We have demonstrated that patients with ESS have a higher need of red blood cells transfusion compared to patients without ESS and, thus they have a higher risk to develop anemia in the peri-operative period. We believe it would be useful to diagnose ESS in fragile patients at their arrival to the emergency room and apply a peri-operative therapeutic protocol to prevent anemia.

Keywords: Euthyroid Sick Syndrome; Nonthiyroidal Illness Syndrome; blood loss; femoral neck fractures; proximal femur fractures; transfusion rate.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia*
  • Euthyroid Sick Syndromes* / complications
  • Hip Fractures* / complications
  • Hip Fractures* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Period
  • Thyroxine / therapeutic use


  • Thyroxine