Background In the nonoperative management (NOM) of blunt splenic injuries (BSI), the clinical relevance of age as a risk factor has not been well studied. Methods Using the 2011 National Trauma Data Bank data set, age was analyzed both as a continuous variable and a categorical variable (group 1 [13-54 y], group 2 [55-74 y], and group 3 [≥75 y]). BSI severity was stratified by abbreviated injury scale (AIS): group 1 (AIS ≤2), group 2 (AIS 3), and group 3 (AIS ≥4). A semiparametric proportional odds model was used to model NOM outcomes and effects due to age and BSI severity. Results Of 15,113 subjects, 15.3% failed NOM. The odds of failure increased by a factor of 1.014 for each year of age, or factor of 1.5 for groups 2 and 3 each. BSI severity groups 2 and 3 had increases in the odds of failure by factors of 3.9 and 13, respectively, compared with those of group 1. Most failures occurred by 48 h irrespective of age. The effect of age was most pronounced in age groups 2 and 3 with the most severe BSI, where a NOM failure rate of >50% was seen. Both age and failure of NOM were independent predictors of mortality. Conclusions Age is associated with failure of NOM but its effect seems more clinically relevant only in high-grade BSI. Factors that could influence NOM success in elderly patients with high-grade injuries deserve further study.
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