Prospective Study Investigating the Prevalence and Evolution of Malnourishment in the Acute Orthopaedic Trauma Patient

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


1 University of Washington, Seattle WA, USA

2 University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora CO, USA


Background:Orthopaedic trauma surgeons believe that nutritional status is important. The primary aim of this study
was to prospectively investigate the prevalence and progression of malnourishment in orthopaedic trauma patients and
determine when and what labs should be ordered. The secondary aim was to determine if malnourished patients had
increased complications.
Methods: Prospective cohort study of orthopaedic trauma patients at a Level I trauma center. Assessment of nutritional
status over the hospital course was performed using the Rainey MacDonald nutritional index (RMNI) and nutritional
laboratory markers on admission, day 3, day 7, and 6 weeks post-op.
Results: 98 patients were enrolled and included. On admission, 60%, 41%, and 38% of patients were malnourished
based on albumin, prealbumin, and RMNI values, respectively, with 31% in severe acute-phase response (APR)
as determined by CRP. By day 3, a significant increase in the percent of malnourished patients was noted based
on the laboratory markers, 85%, 90%, and 80%, respectively, with 70% in severe APR. On day 7, values stabilized
at 74%, 89%, 69%, with 56% in severe APR. At six weeks, malnourishment persisted in 13%, 19%, and 12%
of patients, with 4% in severe APR. Older patients demonstrated a greater depression of nutritional markers
throughout the hospital stay.
Conclusion: The prevalence of malnourishment, based on serum nutritional markers, in the presence of acute
orthopaedic injury is substantial, and it continues to rise during the acute hospital stay. Recommend obtaining prealbumin
or albumin levels on hospital day 3 to assess nutritional status.
Level of evidence: II


  • Receive Date: 17 May 2020
  • Revise Date: 25 June 2020
  • Accept Date: 13 December 2021
  • First Publish Date: 25 December 2021