Broken bones (fractures) in old age/geriatric traumatology

Falls and fractures in old age pose a major challenge. In an elderly person, a broken bone can be a dramatic event that requires a hospital stay. When a patient is hospitalised following an accident, the main goals are to enable them to recover as quickly as possible, reintegrate them into their previous environment and help them regain their mobility. Particularly in older patients, this healing process often fails to achieve the desired outcome. Some patients remain in need of nursing care.

The Geriatric Traumatology Centre was established to optimise the treatment administered to these patients. The geriatric traumatology team led by Dr C. Hierholzer on the surgical side works in close cooperation with their colleagues in the Department of Geriatrics. The team specialises in surgery and treatment for patients aged 70 and over who have suffered the following fractures:

  • Fractures of the upper arm
  • Fractures of the vertebrae
  • Fractures of the thigh and hip
  • Pelvic fractures

Goal: prompt surgical treatment and early rehabilitation

Following a trauma, the main priority is to administer prompt surgical treatment and facilitate early rehabilitation with the goal of restoring as much as possible of the independence and quality of life which the patient enjoyed before the accident. Right from the time the treatment begins, the surgeons cooperate with all the relevant departments, i.e. with geriatrics, physiotherapy, anaesthesiology, intensive care, social services etc., to ensure that the outcome is as successful as possible.

Outpatient follow-up

Since older patients who have suffered a fracture have a very high risk of suffering another, all patients undergo an extensive work-up at their first outpatient follow-up appointment (4-8 weeks after being discharged from hospital); this includes examinations of their bone and muscle health and takes place at Zurich University Hospital’s testing and diagnostics centre.
The goal is to work with the patient’s family doctor in order to initiate an effective course of treatment aimed at preventing further fractures. It has been proven that this concept can prevent numerous complications and enable the patient to achieve or regain maximum independence.


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University Hospital Zurich
Department of Traumatology

Rämistrasse 100
8091 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 255 27 55
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