Rib fractures resulting from blunt thoracic trauma occur frequently in the elderly. Even though these are usually due to a low impact trauma mechanism (e.g. a fall from standing height), rib fractures are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in the elderly patient. This unfavourable clinical course is most often caused by respiratory insufficiency due to lung oedema or pneumonia. This cases series presents three elderly patients who sustained multiple rib fractures and were subsequently admitted to a level I trauma centre for treatment and discusses diagnostic challenges and different treatment approaches for this population. More specifically, agespecific indications and contraindications for intravenous or epidural analgesia and operative rib fixation are discussed. In addition, we show that a multidisciplinary approach, involving a trauma surgeon, anaesthetist, intensive care physician and physiotherapist, is paramount for the prevention of potentially lethal complications.

Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde
Department of Surgery

van Vledder, M.G, Hagenaars, T, & Verhofstad, M.H.J. (2015). The elderly patient with multiple rib fractures. Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, 159(38). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/82365