Trauma patient heterotopic ossification diagnosis is associated with increased hospital length of stay

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Background: Traumatic heterotopic ossification (tHO) refers to the development of extra-skeletal bone in muscle and soft tissues following tissue insult secondary to surgery or trauma. This presents a persistent clinical concern associated with significant patient morbidity and expense to diagnose and treat. Traumatic HO is a substantial barrier to rehabilitation for trauma-injured patients. As such, the development of tHO after burn and other trauma is hypothesised to prolong inpatient length of stay (LOS) and thus increase health care costs. Objective: To investigate the association between an inpatient tHO diagnosis and hospital LOS in trauma patients. Methods: A retrospective audit of trauma patients over a 14-year period was completed using data from four WA hospitals. Burn and neurological trauma patients diagnosed with tHO as an inpatient (tHO+) and control subjects (tHO-), matched (1:3) by age, gender, and injury severity factors, were identified using medical diagnostic codes. Data relating to patient and injury-related determinants of LOS from tHO+ and tHO- subjects were analysed to model the association of tHO on total hospital length of stay. Results: 188 identified patients were hospitalised due to traumatic injury; 47 patients with tHO following burn injury (n = 17), spinal cord injury (n = 13) and traumatic brain injury (n = 17), and 141 control patients. Those who developed tHO during hospitalisation had a significantly higher median LOS than matched trauma patients who did not develop tHO (142 days vs. 61 days). Multivariate regression analyses identified the following independent predictive factors of a prolonged hospital LOS: tHO diagnosis, mechanical ventilation hours, injury to the hip region and thigh area, other ossification disorder, pressure injury, admission to intensive care unit and deep vein thrombosis. Trauma patients diagnosed with tHO during their hospital admission stayed 1.6 times longer than trauma patients matched for injury severity without a tHO diagnosis (IRR 1.56, 95% CI 1.35–1.79, p<0.001). Conclusion: Traumatic heterotopic ossification is an independent explanatory factor for increased hospital LOS in patients following burns, spinal cord, and traumatic brain injury. Early diagnosis may assist in reducing the impact of tHO on acute hospital stay after trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111328
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


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