In-hospital, 30- and 90-day mortality in elderly trauma patients with operative feeding tubes

Published:November 15, 2022DOI:


      • In-hospital, 30- and 90-day mortality rates of 7.3%, 13.9% and 20.5% were seen in older patients receiving feeding tubes.
      • Factors associated with mortality were dementia (in hospital), dementia and end-stage liver disease (30-day), and CHF (90-day).



      Nutrition is essential in the treatment of elderly trauma patients (ETP). ETP experience dysphagia at rates six times higher than the non-trauma elderly population (NTEP) and are at increased risk for malnutrition. Operative feeding tube (OFT) placement is often used to aid with the nutritional management of ETP. Elderly patients experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality when compared to the general population, especially in the traumatic setting, with some data suggesting in-hospital mortality as high as 10%. However, the mortality rates and associated comorbidities associated with OFT in ETP are unknown. The purposes of this study were to establish the mortality rate in hospital as well as 30- and 90-days following discharge among elderly trauma patients (ETP) receiving OFT, and to assess factors associated with mortality within this population.


      A retrospective review of all trauma patients from a single Level I Trauma Center from 01/2010-09/2020 was conducted. Exclusion criteria were patients under 65 years of age or those with previously placed OFT. Demographics, comorbidities, injury mechanisms, injury severity scores (ISS), and OFT data were collected from the institutional trauma registry. Mortality data were obtained using the Social Security Death Index. Mortality at discharge, 30 days, and 90 days following discharge were the primary outcomes. Bivariate analysis was conducted to compare characteristics and comorbidities of patients alive and dead at the time points of interest.


      There were 151 ETP who received OFT. Patients were largely male (67.5%), severely injured via a blunt mechanism (95%), and had a median age of 76 years. 11 (7.3%) experienced in-hospital mortality following feeding tube placement, 21 (13.9%) died within 30 days, and 31 (20.5%) within 90 days. Bivariate analysis demonstrated that ETP who died were more likely to have a history of dementia (p = 0.004), congestive heart failure (p = 0.014), and end-stage liver disease (p = 0.034). No other patient or injury factors were associated with mortality after OFT placement.


      Mortality rates for ETP with OFT were higher than anticipated, yet favorable compared to recently reported data. Patients who died were more likely to have dementia, CHF, or ESLD than those who survived. The few comorbidities associated with mortality suggest that nearly all ETP who undergo OFT placement are at risk for mortality. Additionally, the data highlights the importance of early goals of care discussions for ETP and their loved ones when operative feeding tubes are being considered.

      Level of evidence

      Level III.

      Study type

      Prognostic/Therapeutic/Diagnostic Test/Economic/Decision;


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