To determine and compare the mortality rates of patients with bilateral versus unilateral femoral fractures and to determine the contribution of the femoral fracture to, and identify risk factors for, such mortality.

Retrospective analysis using trauma registry data on consecutive blunt trauma patients with unilateral (800 patients, group I) or bilateral (eighty-five patients, group II) femoral fractures.

Univariate data analysis was performed to compare the groups' ages, Injury Severity Scores, Glasgow Coma Scale values, mortality, and the presence of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Logistic regression analysis was performed to determine variables statistically associated with mortality.

Group II patients had a significantly higher Injury Severity Score (30.2 versus 24.5, p < 0.001), lower Glasgow Coma Scale value (12.3 versus 13.1, p = 0.05), higher mortality rate (25.9 vs 11.7%, p < 0.001), and higher incidence of ARDS (15.7 versus 7.27%, p = 0.014) than group I patients. Group II patients also had significantly more closed head injuries, open skull fractures, intraabdominal injuries requiring surgical intervention, and pelvic fractures; the rates of thoracic injury were similar. Regression analysis of variables evident on admission revealed a significant correlation between bilateral femoral fractures and death; however, other factors (shock, closed head injury, and thoracic injury) had much stronger correlations with mortality.

Patients with bilateral femoral fractures have a significantly higher risk of death, ARDS, and associated injuries than patients with unilateral femoral fractures. This increase in mortality is more closely related to associated injuries and physiologic parameters than to the presence of bilateral femoral fractures. The presence of bilateral femoral fractures should alert the clinician to the likelihood of associated injuries, a higher Injury Severity Score, and the potential for a more serious prognosis.

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