Redefining geriatric trauma: 55 is the new 65

J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2021 Apr 1;90(4):738-743. doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000003062.


Introduction: As the prevalence of geriatric trauma patients has increased, protocols are being developed to address the unique requirements of this demographic. However, categorical definitions for geriatric patients vary, potentially creating confusion concerning which patients should be cared for according to geriatric-specific standards. The aim of this study was to identify data-driven cut points for mortality based on age to support implementation of age-driven guidelines.

Methods: Adults aged 18 to 100 years with blunt or penetrating injury were selected from 95 hospitals' trauma registries. Change point analysis techniques were used to detect inflection points in the proportion of deaths at each age. Based on these calculated points, patients were allocated into age groups, and their characteristics and outcomes were compared. Logistic regression was used to estimate risk-adjusted in-hospital mortality controlling for sex, race, Injury Severity Score, Glasgow Coma Scale, and number of comorbidities.

Results: A total of 255,099 patients were identified (female, 45.7%; mean age, 59.3 years; mean Injury Severity Score, 8.69; blunt injury, 92.6%). Statistically significant increases in mortality rate were noted at ages 55, 77, and 82 years. Compared with the referent group (age, <55 years), adjusted odds ratios (AORs) showed increases in mortality if age 55 to 76 years (AOR, 2.42), age 77 to 81 years (AOR, 4.70), or age 82 years or older (AOR, 6.43). National Trauma Data Standard-defined comorbidities significantly increased once age surpassed 55 years, as the rate more than doubled for each of the older age categories (p < 0.001). As age increased, each group was more likely to be female, have dementia, sustain a ground level fall, and be discharged to a skilled nursing facility (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: This large multicenter analysis established a clinically and statistically significant increase in mortality at ages 55, 77, and 82 years. This research strongly suggests that trauma patients older than 55 years be considered for inclusion in geriatric trauma protocols. The other age inflection points identified (77 and 82 years) may also warrant additional specialized care considerations.

Level of evidence: Epidemiological study, level III; Care management, level IV.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls / mortality
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Rate
  • Trauma Centers
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / mortality*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy
  • Wounds, Penetrating / diagnosis
  • Wounds, Penetrating / mortality*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / therapy
  • Young Adult