Current Surgery Reports

, 5:30 | Cite as

Frailty in Trauma Patients: An Emerging Geriatric Syndrome

  • Muhammad Khan
  • Bellal JosephEmail author
Trauma Surgery (J. Diaz, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Trauma Surgery


Purpose of Review

In contrast to their younger counterparts, geriatric patients have a decreased physiological reserve. This age-related vulnerability poses unique challenges for clinical decision-making. Additionally, as the population of the United States (U.S.) continues to age at a rapid pace, an increasing number of elderly patients need trauma care. Accordingly, this review examines the relevance of the concept of frailty in trauma cases, as well as its role in identifying vulnerable trauma patients and improving patient care. Moreover, through a process of simplification, we made the fundamental concepts of frailty and Frailty Index clearer and more useful.

Recent Findings

Frailty is a state of decline in many physiological systems. It increases vulnerability to a poor resolution after a stressor event. More precisely, this cumulative depletion of the body’s reserves makes it more likely, that a stressor will trigger disproportionate changes in health. This being the case, investigators have developed several validated models of frailty that show the association between frailty and health outcomes in trauma.


Frailty can decisively impact a wide spectrum of a trauma patient care, including morbidity, mortality, hospital stay, discharge disposition from the hospital, and informed clinical decision-making. Therefore, especially given the increasing number of aging individuals in the U.S., the frailty of such patients must be considered to improve outcomes.


Frailty Geriatric trauma Geriatric syndrome Frailty Index Trauma outcomes 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Trauma, Critical Care, Emergency Surgery, and Burns, Department of SurgeryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Trauma, Critical Care, and Emergency Surgery, Department of SurgeryUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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