Sarcopenia, or age-related loss of muscle mass, is measurable by computed tomography (CT). In elderly trauma patients, increased mortality is associated with decreased psoas muscle cross-sectional area (P-Area) on abdominal CT. Fall is the leading cause of injury in the elderly, and head CT is more often obtained. Masseter muscle cross-sectional area (M-Area) is readily measured on head CT. Hypothesizing that M-Area is a satisfactory surrogate for P-Area, we compared the two as markers of sarcopenia and increased mortality in elderly trauma patients.
All blunt-injured patients aged 65 years or older admitted to our trauma center during 2010 were included. Two-year postdischarge mortality was identified by matching records to county, state, and national death indices. Bilateral M-Area was measured on admission head CT at 2 cm below the zygomatic arch. Bilateral P-Area was measured on abdominal CT at the fourth vertebral body. Average M-Area and P-Area values were calculated for each patient. Cox proportional hazards models evaluated the relationship of M-Area and P-Area with mortality. Model predictive performance was calculated using concordance statistics.
Among 487 patients, 357 with M-Area and 226 with P-Area were identified. Females had smaller M-Area (3.43 cm2 vs 4.18 cm2; p < 0.050) and P-Area (6.50 cm2 vs 10.9 cm2; p < 0.050) than males. Masseter muscle cross-sectional area correlated with P-Area (rho, 0.38; p < 0.001). Adjusted Cox regression models revealed decreased survival associated with declining M-Area (hazard ratio, 0.76; 95% confidence interval, 0.60–0.96) and P-Area (hazard ratio, 0.68; 95% confidence interval, 0.46–1.00). Masseter muscle cross-sectional area and P-Area discriminated equally well in best-fit models.
In elderly trauma patients, M-Area is an equally valid and more readily available marker of sarcopenia and 2-year mortality than P-Area. Future study should validate M-Area as a metric to identify at-risk patients who may benefit from early intervention.
Level of Evidence
Prognostic study, level III.