Background: Neck of femur (NOF) fractures are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in elderly people with multiple co-morbidities; making management of this patient subgroup challenging. Predictors of an increase in morbidity and mortality would therefore provide a useful framework for the assessment and management of this demographic. Within the current literature, hypoalbuminaemia (<35g/dl) has been highlighted as being a good biochemical predictor of short-term mortality (<12 months). Our aims were to assess whether there was an association between low albumin levels and mortality and whether the severity adversely affects outcomes.
Materials and Methods: Patients admitted to our large district hospital between January 2011 and December 2012 who had sustained a NOF fracture, were over 65 years old and had a pre-operative albumin level were included. This retrospective, longitudinal, observational study concluded in July 2014. Demographic and pre-operative function and albumin data was collated retrospectively. An association with mortality was made.
Results: 471 patients had usable data. Mean pre-operative albumin level was 29.5g/dl (SD 6.22g/dl) in patients who died and 32.8g/dl (SD 6.43g/dl) in patients who survived during the study period. Pre-operative albumin level was significantly associated with survival (hazard ratio 0.957: 95% CI (0.937, 0.978); p<0.001). Thus, a reduction of 1g/dl in pre-operative albumin is associated with an increased hazard of death of 4.3%.
Conclusions: Early identification of patients with hypoalbuminaemia on admission with a venous blood sample and timely input from orthogeriatrians could optimise these patients pre- and post-operatively. This may enable rates of morbidity and mortality to fall. Hypoalbuminaemia may be a reasonable predictor of shorter-term mortality in this patient subgroup. However, this may reflect existing co-morbidities rather than an isolated cause. This study supports an association between hypoalbuminaemia and poorer outcome for patients with NOF fractures.