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Non-surgical management and analgesia strategies for older adults with multiple rib fractures: A systematic review, meta-analysis, and practice management guideline from the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.

BACKGROUND: Chest wall injury in older adults is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Optimal nonsurgical management strategies for these patients have not been fully defined regarding level of care, incentive spirometry (IS), noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV), and the use of ketamine, epidural, and other locoregional approaches to analgesia.

METHODS: Relevant questions regarding older patients with significant chest wall injury with patient population(s), intervention(s), comparison(s), and appropriate selected outcomes were chosen. These focused on intensive care unit (ICU) admission, IS, NIPPV, and analgesia including ketamine, epidural analgesia, and locoregional nerve blocks. A systematic literature search and review were conducted, our data were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively, and the quality of evidence was assessed per the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation methodology. No funding was used.

RESULTS: Our literature review (PROSPERO 2020-CRD42020201241, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, Web of Science, January 15, 2020) resulted in 151 studies. Intensive care unit admission was qualitatively not superior for any defined cohort other than by clinical assessment. Poor IS performance was associated with prolonged hospital length of stay, pulmonary complications, and unplanned ICU admission. Noninvasive positive pressure ventilation was associated with 85% reduction in odds of pneumonia ( p < 0.0001) and 81% reduction in odds of mortality ( p = 0.03) in suitable patients without risk of airway loss. Ketamine use demonstrated no significant reduction in pain score but a trend toward reduced opioid use. Epidural and other locoregional analgesia techniques did not affect pneumonia, length of mechanical ventilation, hospital length of stay, or mortality.

CONCLUSION: We do not recommend for or against routine ICU admission. We recommend use of IS to inform ICU status and conditionally recommend use of NIPPV in patients without risk of airway loss. We offer no recommendation for or against ketamine, epidural, or other locoregional analgesia.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Systematic Review/Meta-analysis; Level IV.

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