Isolated rib fractures in elderly patients: Mortality and morbidity

Yoav Barnea, Hanoch Kashtan, Yehuda Skornick, Nahum Werbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To describe the management, morbidity and mortality seen with isolated rib fractures in elderly patients and assess the need for hospitalization. Design: A case series. Setting: A tertiary care centre in Tel Aviv. Methods: Hospital records of 77 elderly patients (age 65 yr and older) admitted with isolated rib fractures were reviewed over a 9-year period. Main outcome measures: Demographic, medical and hospitalization data, blood hemoglobin and oxygen saturation levels. Results: The number of fractured ribs was found to correlate with the morbidity (p = 0.027) and mortality (p = 0.006). There were no significant differences in these rates with respect to comorbidity except for diabetes (higher morbidity) and congestive heart failure (higher mortality). Twenty-eight patients (36%) had pulmonary complications and 1 had cardiac complications. Pulmonary complications were fatal in 6 patients (7.8%). Multivariate analysis of the factors related to morbidity demonstrated that only oxygen saturation (p = 0.0009) and diabetes (p = 0.03) correlated significantly. Conclusions: In spite of significant morbidity and mortality in elderly patients with isolated rib fractures, prediction of the prognosis for these patients is presently not possible. Admission for observation and treatment is therefore justified and beneficial.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-46
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


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