Elder patients with closed head trauma: a comparison with nonelder patients

Acad Emerg Med. 1998 Jul;5(7):678-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1998.tb02485.x.


Objective: Little is known about the circumstances surrounding closed head trauma (CHT) in elders, and how they differ from nonelders. The study objective was to compare the 2 populations for outcome (positive cranial CT scan depicting traumatic injury, or the need for neurosurgery), mechanism of injury, and the value of the neurologic examination to predict a CT scan positive for traumatic injury or the need for neurosurgical intervention.

Methods: A retrospective study was conducted by collecting a case series of patients with blunt head trauma who underwent CT scanning, and comparing elder (aged > or =60 years) with nonelder patients. The setting was the ED of a university-affiliated Level-1 trauma center.

Results: Twenty percent of the elders and 13% of the nonelders had CT scans positive for traumatic injury, which conferred a risk ratio of 1.58 (95% CI 1.21-2.05). Older women were more at risk for the need for neurosurgery than were younger ones (3.1 vs 0.3%, RR 10.66, 95% CI 1.26-90.46). Among the elders, falls were the dominant mechanism of closed head trauma, followed by motor vehicle collisions (MVCs), then being struck as a pedestrian. In the nonelders, MVCs, falls, and assaults were the most important mechanisms of injury. A focally abnormal neurologic examination imparted an increased risk for both a CT scan positive for traumatic injury (elder 4.39, 95% CI 2.91-6.62; nonelder 7.75, 95% CI 5.53-10.72) and the need for neurosurgery (elder 35.68, 95% CI 4.58-275.89; nonelder 142.58, 95% CI 19.11-1064.22) in both age groups.

Conclusions: Significant differences exist between elder and nonelder victims of CHT with respect to mechanisms of trauma and outcomes (CT scan positive for traumatic injury, or the need for neurosurgery).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Head Injuries, Closed* / diagnostic imaging
  • Head Injuries, Closed* / epidemiology
  • Head Injuries, Closed* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Trauma Severity Indices