Smoking is associated with an improved short-term outcome in patients with rib fractures
Smokers with cardiovascular disease have been reported to have decreased mortality compared to non-smokers. Rib fractures are associated with significant underlying injuries such as lung contusions, lacerations, and/or pneumothoraces. We hypothesized that blunt trauma patients with rib fractures who are smokers have decreased ventilator days and risk of in-hospital mortality compared to non-smokers.
The Trauma Quality Improvement Program (2010-2016) was queried for patients presenting with a blunt rib fracture. Patients that died within 24 h of admission were excluded. A multivariable logistic regression model was performed.
From 282,986 patients with rib fractures, 57,619 (20.4%) were smokers. Compared to non-smokers with rib fractures, smokers had a higher median injury severity score (17 vs. 16, p < 0.001). Smokers had a higher rate of pneumonia (7.5% vs. 6.6%, p < 0.001), however, less ventilator days (5 vs. 6, p = 0.04), and lower in-hospital mortality rate (2.3% vs. 4.6%, p < 0.001), compared to non-smokers. After controlling for covariates, smokers with rib fractures were associated with a decreased risk for in-hospital mortality compared to non-smokers with rib fractures (OR 0.64, 0.56-0.73, p < 0.001).
Despite having more severe injuries and increased rates of pneumonia, smokers with rib fractures were associated with nearly a 40% decreased risk of in-hospital mortality and one less ventilator day compared to non-smokers. The long-term detrimental effects of smoking have been widely established. However, the biologic and pathophysiologic adaptations that smokers have may confer a survival benefit when recovering in the hospital from chest wall trauma. This study was limited by the database missing the number of pack-years smoked. Future prospective studies are needed to confirm this association and elucidate the physiologic mechanisms that may explain these findings.
Grigorian A, Lekawa M, Dolich M, Schubl SD, Doben AR, Kuza CM, Barrios C, Nahmias J. Smoking is associated with an improved short-term outcome in patients with rib fractures. Eur J Trauma Emerg Surg. 2019 May 18.