Original Research

Does Preoperative Pneumonia Affect Complications of Geriatric Hip Fracture Surgery?

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Preoperative pneumonia, reported in 0.3% to 3.2% of hip fracture patients, may be a risk factor for adverse outcomes of hip fracture repair. No studies have reported on baseline differences or adverse outcomes in surgically managed geriatric hip fracture patients with and without preoperative pneumonia, and no data argue for or against delaying surgery in these patients. A retrospective cohort of geriatric patients with operatively treated hip fractures from 2005 to 2012 was identified in the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. Preoperative pneumonia was present in 82 (1.2%) of 7128 geriatric hip fracture patients identified and was associated with male sex, transfer status, functional status, preoperative anemia, confusion, dyspnea at rest, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Multivariate analysis of 30-day outcomes of hip fracture repair revealed that preoperative pneumonia was associated with a higher risk for any adverse event (relative risk [RR] = 1.44), serious adverse event (RR = 1.79), and death (RR = 2.08) after hip fracture repair. Underweight body mass index at time of surgery (<18.5 kg/m2) was predictive of 30-day mortality (RR = 4.67). Surgical delay of 1 to 4 days was not associated with adverse events. Geriatric hip fracture patients with preoperative pneumonia, especially the underweight, are at increased risk for complications and death after hip fracture repair. We cannot recommend against early hip fracture surgery in this population.



Take-Home Points

  • The prevalence of preoperative pneumonia is 1.2% among hip fracture patients aged >65 years.
  • Preoperative pneumonia is an independent risk factor for mortality and adverse events including renal failure, prolonged ventilator dependence, and prolonged altered mental status after geriatric hip fracture surgery.
  • Underweight BMI (<18.5 kg/m2) was associated with higher mortality within 30 days among hip fracture patients admitted with pneumonia.
  • The mortality rate normalized to that of patients without pneumonia within 2 weeks of hip fracture surgery.
  • Time from admission to surgery was not associated with adverse events or mortality among hip fracture patients admitted with pneumonia.

Preoperative pneumonia remains relatively unexplored as a risk factor for adverse outcomes in geriatric hip fracture surgery. Dated studies report a 0.3% to 3.2% prevalence of “recent pneumonia” in patients presenting with hip fracture but provide neither a definition of pneumonia based on clinical criteria nor a subset analysis of outcomes in the pneumonia group.1-3 Although active pneumonia has been identified as a preoperative optimization target in the management guidelines for geriatric hip fracture,4 we are unaware of any studies that have reported on differences in demographics, comorbidities, delay to surgery, or adverse outcomes between hip fracture patients with and without preoperative pneumonia.

This paucity of information on the effect of preoperative pneumonia in the hip fracture population may be related to low prevalence of preoperative pneumonia and a cadre of variable definitions, which limit identification of a cohort of patients with preoperative pneumonia large enough from which to draw meaningful results. Database studies, especially those using surgical registries rather than administrative or reimbursement data, offer particular advantages for investigation of such rare clinical entities.5Medical care of patients with pneumonia alone is known to be facilitated by assessments of mortality risk from clinical and laboratory data. The modified British Thoracic Society rule/CURB-65 (confusion, urea, respiratory rate, blood pressure) score is strongly predictive of mortality in hospitalized adults with pneumonia (odds ratio [OR], 4.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.42-14.85; P = .011) and may guide antibiotic therapy, laboratory investigations, and the decision to intubate in a patient with pneumonia.6-8 This score is predictive of adverse events (AEs), hospital length of stay, and use of intensive care services.6,7,9-13 We hypothesized that preoperative clinical indicators assessed by pneumonia severity scores as well as patient demographics and baseline comorbidities may also have prognostic value for risk of AEs in a cohort of geriatric hip fracture surgery patients with preoperative pneumonia.

In this article, we first describe the prevalence of preoperative pneumonia in geriatric hip fracture surgery patients as well as demographic and operative differences between patients with and without the disease. We then ask 3 questions: Is preoperative pneumonia an independent risk factor for mortality and adverse outcomes in geriatric hip fracture surgery? Is there a postoperative interval during which the unadjusted mortality rate is higher among patients with preoperative pneumonia? In patients with preoperative pneumonia, what are the predictors of morbidity and mortality?


Yale University’s Human Investigations Committee approved this retrospective cohort study, which used the American College of Surgeons (ACS) National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) database for the period 2005 to 2012. ACS-NSQIP is a prospective, multi-institutional outcomes program that collects data on preoperative comorbidities, intraoperative variables, and 30-day postoperative outcomes for patients undergoing surgical procedures in inpatient and outpatient settings.14

Unlike administrative databases, which are based on reimbursement data, ACS-NSQIP data are collected by trained surgical clinical reviewers for the purposes of quality improvement and clinical research, and data quality is ensured with routine auditing.15 The program has gained a high degree of respect as a powerful and valid data source in both general16 and orthopedic17 surgery literature. The database offers a particular advantage with respect to the study of preoperative pneumonia: Only patients with new or recently diagnosed pneumonia on antibiotic therapy who meet strict criteria for characteristic findings on chest radiography, clinical signs and symptoms of respiratory illness, and positive cultures are coded as having actively treated pneumonia at time of surgery.15

To identify hip fracture patients over the age of 65 years who underwent operative fixation of a hip fracture, we used Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) hip fracture codes, including 27235 (percutaneous screw fixation), 27236 or 27244 (plate-and-screw fixation), and 27245 (intramedullary device), as well as 27125 (hemiarthroplasty) and 27130 (arthroplasty) for patients with a postoperative International Classification of Disease, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) diagnosis code (820.x, 820.2x, or 820.8) consistent with acute hip fracture.18,19 Procedure type, anesthesia type, and delay from admission to surgery were captured for all procedures.

Preoperative demographics included age, sex, transfer origin, functional status, and body mass index (BMI) category. Binary comorbidities were classified as preoperative anemia (hematocrit, <0.41 for men, <0.36 for women), confusion, dyspnea at rest, uremia (blood urea nitrogen, >6.8 mmol/L), history of cardiovascular disease (congestive heart failure, myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary intervention, angina pectoris, medically treated hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, or resting claudication), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, renal disease (renal failure or dialysis), and cigarette use in preceding 12 months.20,21 Although preoperative hypotension and respiratory rate are often considered in patients with pneumonia, these variables were not available from the ACS-NSQIP data.6,22Pearson χ2 test for categorical variables was used to compare baseline demographics and operative characteristics between patients with and without pneumonia, and Student t test was used to compare intervals from hospital admission to hip fracture surgery, surgery start to surgery stop, and surgery to discharge between patients with and without preoperative pneumonia.

Binary outcome measures were compared between patients with and without preoperative pneumonia. “Any AE” included any serious AE (SAE) or any minor AE. SAEs included death, acute renal failure, ventilator use >48 hours, unplanned intubation, septic shock, sepsis, return to operating room, coma >24 hours, cardiac arrest requiring cardiopulmonary resuscitation, myocardial infarction, thromboembolic event (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism), and stroke/cerebrovascular accident. Minor AEs included progressive renal insufficiency, urinary tract infection, organ/space infection, superficial surgical-site infection, deep surgical-site infection, and wound dehiscence. Other binary outcome measures included discharge destination and unplanned readmission within 30 days after hip fracture surgery.23Poisson regression with robust error variance as described by Zou24 was used to compare the rates of any, minor, and individual AEs, and any SAEs, between patients with and without pneumonia. Multivariate analysis accounted for the baseline variables in Table 1. AEs that occurred more than once in each group were included in the analyses.

Table 1.

Kaplan-Meier survival analysis was performed for postoperative mortality within 30 days. Within the preoperative pneumonia group, covariates from Table 1 were identified as predictors of any AE, SAE, or death within 30 days after hip fracture surgery by stepwise multivariate Poisson regression with robust error variance. When interval from admission to surgery was longer than 24, 48, 72, or 96 hours, it was also included as a covariate. Variables that did not show an association with AEs at the P < .20 level were not included in the final regression model. All analyses were performed with Stata/SE Version 12.0 statistical software (StataCorp).

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