Obesity has proven to be an independent risk factor of mortality in the intensive care unit (ICU) in both nontrauma and trauma patients. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the detrimental effect of obesity extend to morbidity as well as mortality in the intensive and nonintensive care blunt trauma patients.
A retrospective comparison of obese (body mass index [BMI] >30 kg/m2) to nonobese (BMI <30kg/m2) blunt trauma patients was performed between January 2004 and December 2005. Patient demographics, morbidity, mortality and ventilator, ICU, and hospital length of stays were analyzed. Continuous variables were evaluated using the Wilcoxon Rank test and the nominal variables were evaluated using the Fisher's exact test.
A cohort of 338 nonobese patients was compared with 115 obese patients during the study. These groups were similar in age (p = 0.19), gender (p = 0.37), and mechanism (p = 0.13). Their severity of injury were similar, demonstrated by nonsignificant differences in Injury Severity Score (p = 0.45), New Injury Severity Score (p = 0.51), Abdomen Abbreviated Injury Score (AIS; p = 0.49), and head AIS (p = 0.64). The subset of obese patients who never went to the ICU had a slightly longer hospital stay with a p value of 0.055. Overall the mortality rates were not different between the groups (3.5% obese versus 7.1% nonobese, p = 0.26).
This group of obese blunt trauma patients had similar mortality rates to their leaner counterparts possibly because their complications were minimized. Despite this finding, a subset of obese patients had longer hospital stays which increases the financial burden to the patient and hospital. Effort should be made to facilitate their discharge to avoid complications and minimize cost.