Threshold age and burn size associated with poor outcomes in the elderly after burn injury
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Elderly burn care represents a vast challenge. The elderly are one of the most susceptible populations to burn injuries, but also one of the fastest growing demographics, indicating a substantial increase in patient numbers in the near future. Despite the need and importance of elderly burn care, survival of elderly burn patients is poor. Additionally, little is known about the responses of elderly patients after burn. One central question that has not been answered is what age defines an elderly patient. The current study was conducted to determine whether there is a cut-off age for elderly burn patients that is correlated with an increased risk for mortality and to determine the burn size in modern burn care that is associated with increased mortality. To answer these questions, we applied appropriate statistical analyses to the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and the Inflammatory and Host Response to Injury databases. We could not find a clear cut-off age that differentiates or predicts between survival and death. Risk of death increased linearly with increasing age. Additionally, we found that the LD50 decreases from 45% total body surface area (TBSA) to 25% TBSA from the age of 55 years to the age of 70 years, indicating that even small burns lead to poor outcome in the elderly. We therefore concluded that age is not an ideal to predictor of burn outcome, but we strongly suggest that burn care providers be aware that if an elderly patient sustains even a 25% TBSA burn, the risk of mortality is 50% despite the implementation of modern protocolized burn care.
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