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Revista Brasileira de Ortopedia

Print version ISSN 0102-3616On-line version ISSN 1982-4378

Rev. bras. ortop. vol.52 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Feb. 2017 

Original Article

One-year mortality of elderly patients with hip fracture surgically treated at a hospital in Southern Brazil

Marcelo Teodoro Ezequiel Guerra1  * 

Roberto Deves Viana1 

Liégenes Feil1 

Eduardo Terra Feron1 

Jonathan Maboni1 

Alfonso Soria-Galvarro Vargas1 

1Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), Hospital Universitário Mãe de Deus, Serviço de Ortopedia e Traumatologia, Canoas, RS, Brazil



To analyze the mortality rate at one-year follow-up of patients with hip fracture who underwent surgery at the university hospital of this institution.


The authors reviewed 213 medical records of hospitalized patients aged 65 years or older, following to the order they were admitted to the orthopedics and traumatology service from January 2012 to August 2013.


One-year mortality rate was 23.6%. Mortality was higher among women, with a 3:1 ratio. Anemia (p = 0.000) and dementia (p = 0.041) were significantly associated with the death group. Patients who remained hospitalized for less than 15 days and who were discharged within seven days after surgery showed increased survival.


In the present sample of patients with hip fracture who underwent surgery, one-year mortality rate was 23.6%, and the main comorbidities associated with this outcome were anemia and dementia.

Keywords: Hip fractures; Mortality; Elderly



Analisar a mortalidade, em um ano de seguimento, de pacientes com fratura da extremidade proximal do fêmur submetidos a procedimento cirúrgico no hospital universitário da nossa instituição.


Foram revisados 213 prontuários de pacientes internados com 65 anos ou mais, conforme a ordem de admissão no Serviço de Ortopedia e Traumatologia de janeiro de 2012 a agosto de 2013.


A taxa de mortalidade em um ano foi de 23,6%. A mortalidade foi maior em mulheres, numa proporção 3:1. Anemia (p = 0,000) e demência (p = 0,041) estiveram significativamente associadas ao grupo óbito. Pacientes que permaneceram internados por até 15 dias e os que tiveram alta hospitalar em até sete dias após a cirurgia apresentaram um aumento na sobrevida.


Em nossa amostra de pacientes com fratura de fêmur submetidos a procedimento cirúrgico, a taxa de mortalidade foi de 23,6%; as principais comorbidades associadas a esse desfecho foram anemia e demência.

Palavras-chave: do quadril; Mortalidade; Idoso


Hip fractures are very common and serious events in elderly patients. A significant increase in the incidence of proximal femur fractures has been observed in recent decades, mainly due to the increase of the elderly population, since this incidence progresses with advancing age.1 This type of fracture accounts for 84% of bone lesions in people aged over 60 years; it is a public health issue and a major cause of mortality, disability, excessive medical and hospital expenses, and social and family problems in this population.2,3and4

Fractures of the proximal end of the femur include subtrochanteric and transtrochanteric fractures, as well as those in the femoral neck. Most often, trauma is low-energy and is related to factors such as malnutrition, impaired activities of daily living, decreased visual acuity and reflexes, sarcopenia, and - particularly - bone fragility.1,5and6

In most cases, surgery is indicated. Conservative treatment is chosen in cases of incomplete fractures without displacement or when there are no clinical conditions for surgery. A period between 24 and 48 h after the fracture is considered ideal for the surgical procedure to take place, considering the general health of the patient.7,8,9,10,11and12 Several studies indicate advanced age, physical status, male gender, and delayed treatment as determining factors in mortality.6,11and13 Other factors related to an unfavorable outcome include non-ambulatory condition prior to fracture, cognitive deficiencies, occurrence of a second fracture, low functional level at time of discharge, and lack of bisphosphonates and vitamin D replacement.6and14

Because fractures of the proximal end of the femur occur in patients with significant comorbidities and high risk of pre-operative complications, this condition has a high mortality rate when compared with other fractures.10,11,13and15 An important indicator in the evaluation of care provided in health institutions, mortality rate can also be used for two other purposes: determining the performance of a hospital over time and monitoring the performance of a number of hospitals.16

Given the importance of this issue, this study aimed to determine the mortality rate in the first year of follow-up of elderly patients with hip fracture who underwent surgery at the university hospital of this institution and to identify the comorbidities associated with these patients.

Material and methods

This was a retrospective study conducted at the university hospital of this institution. The study included elderly patients (65 years or older) admitted with a fracture of the proximal end of the femur and surgically treated from January 2012 to August 2013.

This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the institution. The research followed the recommendations of Resolution No. 196/96 of the National Health Council for Research in Human Beings, and was approved on 1/10/13 (CAAE: 21388913.1.0000.5349). Thus, no information that could identify individuals involved in the research will be published, ensuring the anonymity of the subjects and the privacy of information.

The survey was conducted through a review of medical records and telephone contact with patients and their relatives. The information on death and its date were obtained through telephone contact or through the Canoas Health Department, when direct contact was not possible. Patients whose medical records were incomplete or who died prior to surgical treatment were excluded. Patients who underwent conservative treatment were not included.

The following variables were studied: age, sex, comorbidities, type of fracture, surgical procedure, type of implant used, mean time between fracture and surgery, postoperative complications, and death. The cause of death was not assessed, as it had already been identified in a study conducted earlier in this service and because in most cases the cause of death was not directly related to the surgical procedure.

Data were analyzed with tables, descriptive statistics, and chi-squared and Fisher's exact tests, using SPSS software, version 13.0. A maximum significance level of 5% (p ≤ 0.05) was considered to be significant. The chi-squared test was used to assess the gender and age prevalence between groups, as well as the number of comorbidities. The other variables were evaluated using Fisher's exact and chi-squared tests.


From January 2012 to August 2013, the medical records of 213 patients with fractures of the proximal end of the femur were selected for inclusion in the study. Of these, 12 were excluded due to incomplete medical records and two due to death prior to the surgery, which resulted in a final sample of 199 patients. Of the total sample, 153 were contacted directly and 46 through the Department of Health system;

47 (23.6%) patients died within a year and 152 (76.4%) remained alive. Table 1 shows the comparison between the survival group and death group according to age and gender of patients. The survival group was significantly associated with age 65-75 years; conversely, the death group was associated with age range of over 86 years (p = 0.021). There was no difference between groups regarding sex (p = 0.849).

Table 1-  Comparison between the survival and death groups to sex and age of patients. 

Variable Group
Death (n = 47)
Survival (n = 152)
Total (n = 199)
n % n % n %
Female 34 72.3 114 75 148 74.4 0.849
Male 13 27.7 38 25 51 25.6
65–75 9 19.1 54 35.5 63 31.7 0.21
76–86 20 42.6 67 44.1 87 43.7
Over 86 18 38.3 31 20.4 49 24.6

Source: Authors. aChi-squared test.

Regarding the number of comorbidities per patient, it is observed that the presence of no comorbidities was associated with the survival group and that the presence of three comorbidities was associated with the death group (p = 0.004; Table 2). Two comorbidities were significantly associated with the death group: dementia (p = 0.041) and anemia (p = 0.000; Table 3).

Table 2-  Comparison between the survival and death groups according to the number of comorbidities presented. 

N?· of comorbidities Group
n % n % n %
None 1 2.1 32 21.1 33 16.6 0.4
One 13 27.7 45 29.6 58 29.1
Two 14 29.8 47 30.9 61 30.7
Three 16 34 22 14.5 38 19.1
More than three 3 6.4 6 3.9 9 4.5
Total 47 100 152 100 199 100

Source: Authors. aChi-squared test.

Table 3-  Comparison between the survival and death groups according to the presence of comorbidities. 

Comorbidities Group
Death (n = 47)
Survival (n = 152)
Total (n = 199)
n % n % n %
DM 13 27.7 35 23 48 24.1 0.560
SAH 33 70.2 92 60.5 125 62.8 0.300
Stroke 8 17 11 7.2 19 9.5 0.53
NIHD 7 14.9 18 11.8 25 12.6 0.616
IHD 5 10.6 5 3.3 10 5 0.58
Dementia 8 17 10 6.6 18 9 0.41
Depression 4 8.5 4 2.6 8 4 0.91
COPD 1 2.1 4 2.6 5 2.5 1.000
CRF 2 4.3 4 2.6 6 3 0.628
Neoplasia 2 4.3 12 7.9 14 7 0.526
Anemia 8 17 1 0.7 9 4.5 0.000
Hypothyroidism 4 8.5 3 2 7 3.5 0.55
Dyslipidemia 1 2.1 5 3.3 6 3 1.000
Smoking/alcohol use 2 4.3 6 3.9 8 4 1.000
Others 3 6.4 21 13.8 24 12.1 0.208

Source: Authors. IHD, ischemic heart disease; NIHD, non-ischemic heart disease; DM, diabetes mellitus; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; SAH, hypertension; CRF, chronic renal failure. aChi-squared test and Fisher's exact test.

The most prevalent fracture in the study group was transtrochanteric (56.8%), followed by femoral neck (37.7%) and subtrochanteric fractures (5%). Among the osteosynthesis implants, the most widely used was the dynamic hip screw, in 42.7% of cases. Table 4 indicates that three variables were associated with both groups: time between fracture and discharge (p = 0.018), time between surgery and discharge (p = 0.003), and osteosynthesis implant (p = 0.011). Regarding the variable of time between fracture and discharge, it was observed that the survival group was significantly associated with time <15 days and the death group, with time >30 days (p = 0.018). In the variable of time between surgery and discharge, the survival group was associated with time <7 days and the death group, with time 8-15 days and >15 days (p = 0.003). As for the implant used for osteosynthesis, dynamic hip screw was significantly associated with the survival group, and cemented partial hip prosthesis, with the death group (p = 0.011).

Table 4-  Comparison of the study variables between the survival and death groups. 

Variable Response Group
Death (n = 47)
Survival (n = 152)
Total (n = 199)
n % n % n %
Fracture Femoral neck 22 46.8 53 34.9 75 37.7 0.450
Trochanteric 22 46.8 91 59.9 113 56.8
Subtrochanteric 3 6.4 7 4.6 10 5
Femoral neck + trochanteric 1 7 1 0.5
Time of fracture/surgery Up to 7 days 5 10.6 29 19.1 34 17.1 0.352
8–15 days 20 42.6 64 42.1 84 42.2
Over 15 days 22 46.8 59 38.8 81 40.7
Time of fracture/admission Up to 7 days 35 74.5 104 68.4 139 69.8 0.578
8–15 days 9 19.1 41 27 50 25.1
Over 15 days 3 6.4 7 4.6 10 5
Time of fracture/discharge Up to 15 days 7 15.6 48 31.6 55 27.9 0.18
16–30 days 23 51.1 79 52 102 51.8
Over 30 days 15 33.3 25 16.4 40 20.3
Time of surgery/discharge Up to 7 days 25 55.6 123 80.9 148 75.1 0.3
8–15 days 11 24.4 15 9.9 26 13.2
Over 15 days 9 20 14 9.2 23 11.7
Osteosynthesis DCS 9 19.1 15 9.9 24 12.1 0.11
DHS 14 29.8 71 46.7 85 42.7
Cannulated screw 5 3.3 5 2.5
PFN 1 2.1 9 5.9 10 5
Short PFN 2 4.3 5 3.3 7 3.5
Cemented PHR 8 17 9 5.9 17 8.5
Cementless PHR 6 12.8 4 2.6 10 5
Cemented THR 2 4.3 11 7.2 13 6.5
Cementless THR 5 10.6 22 14.5 27 13.6

Source: Authors. DCS, dynamic condylar screw; DHS, dynamic hip screw; PFN, proximal femur nail; PHR, partial hip replacement; THR, total hip replacement. aChi-squared test and Fisher's exact test.

Regarding complications, sepsis in the postoperative period was significantly associated with the death group (p = 0.001). Among other comorbidities studied, there was no significant relationship with the death group (Table 5).

Table 5-  Comparison between the survival and death groups according to the presence of complications in the postoperative period. 

Complications Group
Death (n = 47)
Survival (n = 152)
Total (n = 199)
n % n % n %
UTI 3 6.4 17 11.2 20 10.1 0.418
BPN 6 12.8 11 7.2 17 8.5 0.370
SSI 4 8.5 7 4.6 11 5.5 0.464
Osteosynthesis infection 1 2.1 2 1.3 3 1.5 1.000
Osteosynthesis rupture/dislocation 1 2.1 5 3.3 6 3 1.000
Delirium 2 4.3 5 3.3 7 3.5 1.000
Sepsis without focus 8 17 3 2 11 5.5 0.001
ARF 1 2.1 3 2 4 2 1.000
Anemia 1 2.1 5 3.3 6 3 1.000
PTB 3 6.4 2 1.3 5 2 0.87
Others 3 6.4 3 2 6 3 0.145

Source: Authors. BPN, bronchopneumonia; SSI, surgical site infection; ARF, acute renal failure; UTI, urinary tract infection; PTB, pulmonary thromboembolism. aChi-squared test.


This study investigated the mortality of elderly patients who underwent surgery for fractures of the proximal end of the femur after one year of follow-up. The results showed a mortality rate of 23.6%, associated with variables such as age, comorbidities, osteosynthesis, time between fracture and discharge, and time between surgery and discharge.

By presenting these data, the authors aim to encourage the improvement of the quality of the current services, initially by making health officials, hospital administrators, doctors, and other professionals aware of the real problem that these conditions represent.

A higher incidence was observed in female patients (74.4%); this finding is consistent with the literature, which indicates a ratio of two to five women for every man.1,3,4,5,9,13,15,16,17,18,19,20and21 The mean age of patients included in the study was 79.84 years, similar to that found in the literature.1,3,17,21and22

One-year mortality rates show great variability in the literature.2,12,17,18,19and20 The mortality rate in the present study was 23.6%. Ricci et al.20 analyzed 202 patients and observed a mortality rate of 28.7% after one year of follow-up. In turn, Pereira et al.18 observed a rate of 35% in a sample of 246 patients with hip fracture. In a study conducted in Italy, Meessen et al.,23 with a sample of 828 patients, observed a mortality rate of only 20.7%.

In the present study, it was observed that mortality rate was higher in patients older than 86 years. Pugely et al.,24 in a prospective study of 4331 patients, showed a similar increase in mortality in patients over 80 years with hip fracture, which was significant for their overall mortality rate.

The most prevalent comorbidities were hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, anemia, and dementia. This profile is consistent with that observed in several studies, in accordance to natural aging process.1,9,16,17and24 Although hypertension and diabetes mellitus combined accounted for over 80% of prevalence, these comorbidities are not determinant of an unfavorable outcome. Anemia and dementia were significantly associated with the death group, and are mentioned in the literature as factors associated with increased morbidity and mortality.20,25,26,27and28 In the present study, an increase was observed in mortality among patients with three comorbidities prior to the fracture. Studies show that the number of previous diseases influences the mortality of patients with proximal end of femur fractures and that the presence of two or more comorbidities is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.29

The ideal time between fracture and surgical treatment has been widely discussed in the literature. The ideal time for surgery is considered to be between 24 and 48 h after fracture.9,10,11,12,15,17and22 In the present study, the mean interval from fracture to surgery was 16.19 days, with a minimum of two and maximum of 100 days. Despite the disagreement with the literature, the death group was not associated with delay of surgery. As this is a tertiary hospital, there is a bias regarding time between fracture and surgery. As this hospital does not have an emergency care unit, patients are first treated at an emergency department and only after stabilization transferred to the definitive treatment. The authors believe that this generates a significant bias in the outcome of these patients, since the treatment is rarely performed in its ideal form due to the system itself.

Time between fracture and discharge was significant in this analysis. Patients who remained hospitalized for over 30 days presented a higher mortality rate. Astur et al.3 reported an increase in mortality of more than five times in patients who were hospitalized for over ten days when compared with those who remained less than ten days. The time between surgery and discharge was statistically significant in the analysis, but this relationship was not observed in the literature.

Osteosynthesis was shown to be relevant to survival and mortality of patients. The use of dynamic hip screws was significantly associated with the survival group. The literature, however, does not indicate a difference between the type of implant used and the mortality of patients with proximal femoral fractures.18and21

Regarding complications, only 10% were linked to surgery and the osteosynthesis implant used. The most prevalent clinical complications were urinary tract infection (10.1%), nosocomial pneumonia (8.5%), sepsis (5.5%), and delirium (5.5%), all frequently cited in the literature.10,13,14,16and24 Sepsis was significantly associated with the death group (p = 0.001). In a study published in 2014, Gibson et al.30 demonstrated that one-third of patients with proximal femoral fracture admitted to the intensive care unit with sepsis died in the unit and another one-third died outside the unit before discharge.


In this sample of patients with hip fracture who underwent surgery, the mortality rate at one year was 23.6%; the major comorbidities significantly associated with this outcome were anemia and dementia.


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Study conducted at the Universidade Luterana do Brasil (ULBRA), Hospital Universitário, Canoas, RS, Brazil

Received: January 06, 2016; Accepted: April 18, 2016

* Corresponding author. E-mail: (M.T. Guerra).

Conflicts of interest The authors declare no conflicts of interest

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