Surgery for hip fractures: Does surgical delay affect outcomes?
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Hip fractures are associated with a high rate of mortality and profound temporary and sometimes permanent impairment of quality of life. Current guidelines indicate that surgeons should perform surgery for a hip fracture within 24 hours of injury because earlier surgery is associated with better functional outcome and lower rates of perioperative complications and mortality. Proponents of early treatment argue that this approach minimizes the length of time a patient is confined to bed rest, thereby reducing the risk for associated complications, such as pressure sores, deep vein thrombosis, and urinary tract infections. Those favoring delaying surgery beyond the guideline recommendations believe that this approach is required to medically optimize patients, and therefore decrease the risk for perioperative complications. Further challenges to resolving this debate is the lack of an accepted definition of what should constitute an "unacceptable delay" for hip fracture surgery and the fact that outcomes associated with surgical delay are based on observational data alone (i.e., not randomized controlled trials). The effect of preoperative timing on mortality and other patient-important outcomes across various age groups remains controversial and warrants a large randomized controlled trial to offer clear insights into the effects associated with early versus delayed surgery among hip fracture patients.
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