, Volume 31, Issue 11, pp 2092-2103

Epidemiology and Contemporary Patterns of Trauma Deaths: Changing Place, Similar Pace, Older Face

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The epidemiology of trauma deaths in Europe is less than well investigated. Thus, our goal was to study the contemporary patterns of trauma deaths within a defined population with an exceptionally high trauma autopsy rate.


This was a retrospective evaluation of 260 consecutive trauma autopsies for which we collected demographic, pre-hospital and in-hospital data. Patients were analyzed for injury severity by standard scoring systems (Abbreviated Injury Scale [AIS], Revised Trauma Score [RTS], and Injury Severity Score [ISS]), and the Trauma and Injury Severity Scale [TRISS] methodology.


The fatal trauma incidence was 10.0 per 100,000 inhabitants (17.4 per 100,000 age-adjusted ≥ 55 years). Blunt mechanism (87%), male gender (75%), and pre-hospital deaths (52%) predominated. Median ISS was 38 (range: 4–75). Younger patients (<55 years) who died in the hospital were more often hypotensive (SBP < 90 mmHg; p = 0.001), in respiratory distress (RR < 10/min, or > 29/min; p < 0.0001), and had deranged neurology on admission (Glasgow Coma Score [GCS] ≤ 8; p < 0.0001), compared to those ≥ 55 years. Causes of death were central nervous system (CNS) injuries (67%), exsanguination (25%), and multiorgan failure (8%). The temporal death distribution is model-dependent and can be visualized in unimodal, bimodal, or trimodal patterns. Age increased (r = 0.43) and ISS decreased (r = –0.52) with longer time from injury to death (p < 0.001). Mean age of the trauma patients who died increased by almost a decade during the study period (from mean 41.7 ± 24.2 years to mean 50.5 ± 25.4 years; p = 0.04). The pre-hospital:in-hospital death ratio shifted from 1.5 to 0.75 (p < 0.007).


While pre-hospital and early deaths still predominate, an increasing proportion succumb after arrival in hospital. Focus on injury prevention is imperative, particularly for brain injuries. Although hemorrhage and multiorgan failure deaths have decreased, they do still occur. Redirected attention and focus on the geriatric trauma population is mandated.