Malnutrition and its effects in severely injured trauma patients

Suzan Dijkink, Karien Meier, Pieta Krijnen, D. Dante Yeh, George C. Velmahos, Inger B. Schipper

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: In hospitalized patients, malnutrition is associated with adverse outcomes. However, the consequences of malnutrition in trauma patients are still poorly understood. This study aims to review the current knowledge about the pathophysiology, prevalence, and effects of malnutrition in severely injured patients. Methods: A systematic literature review in PubMed and Embase was conducted according to PRISMA-guidelines. Results: Nine review articles discussed the hypermetabolic state in severely injured patients in relation to malnutrition. In these patients, malnutrition negatively influenced the metabolic response, and vice versa, thereby rendering them susceptible to adverse outcomes and further deterioration of nutritional status. Thirteen cohort studies reported on prevalences of malnutrition in severely injured patients; ten reported clinical outcomes. In severely injured patients, the prevalence of malnutrition ranged from 7 to 76%, depending upon setting, population, and nutritional assessment tool used. In the geriatric trauma population, 7–62.5% were malnourished at admission and 35.6–60% were at risk for malnutrition. Malnutrition was an independent risk factor for complications, mortality, prolonged hospital length of stay, and declined quality of life. Conclusions: Despite widespread belief about the importance of nutrition in severely injured patients, the quantity and quality of available evidence is surprisingly sparse, frequently of low-quality, and outdated. Based on the malnutrition-associated adverse outcomes, the nutritional status of trauma patients should be routinely and carefully monitored. Trials are required to better define the optimal nutritional treatment of trauma patients, but a standardized data dictionary and reasonable outcome measures are required for meaningful interpretation and application of results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)993-1004
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Adverse outcomes
  • Malnutrition
  • Nutrition
  • Polytrauma
  • Severe injuries
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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