When elderly people fall, a hip fracture is a common and serious result. It is typically treated with surgery, but physicians need a better way to determine how frail a patient is in order to select the best surgical method. The need is great: Each year over 300,000 older people are hospitalized in the United States for hip fractures. These disabling injuries are associated with significant mortality, loss of independence and financial burden.
Now, a new research study led by radiologists from the University of California, Davis and Wake Forest Baptist medical centers may help guide these critical treatment decisions.
The research team performed a retrospective 10-year study of 274 patients who were 65 years or older and treated for hip fractures at the UC Davis Medical Center. Using CT images previously taken to diagnose the hip fracture, the researchers measured the size and density of the patients’ core muscles that stabilize the spine. They then compared the health of these core muscles with survival rates. The reported 1-year mortality rate after fracturing a hip is between 14 and 58 percent.
They found that hip-fracture patients with better thoracic (mid-upper back) core muscles had significantly better survival rates, whereas no significant trend was seen for patients with better lumbar (low back) muscles, as recently reported in the American Journal of Roentgenology.
As patients age, it becomes increasingly important to identify the safest and most beneficial orthopaedic treatments, but there currently is no objective way to do this. Using CT scans to evaluate the muscles is addition to hip bones can help predict longevity and personalize treatment to a patient’s needs. We’re excited because information on muscles is included on every routine CT scan of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, so the additional evaluations can be done without the costs of additional tests, equipment or software.
Previously: Improving care for the frailest, elderly patients, How orthopedic surgery straightened out one man’s life and Hidden, magnetic-powered telescoping rod makes bone-lengthening easier
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