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Journal Article


Kilgo PD, Meredith JW, Hensberry RA, Osler TM. J. Trauma 2004; 57(3): 479-487.


Departments of Public Health Sciences (P.D.K., R.H.) and General Surgery (J.W.M.), Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Department of Surgery, University of Vermont, College of Medicine (T.M.O.), Burlington, Vermon


(Copyright © 2004, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins)






OBJECTIVE:: The Injury Severity Score (ISS) is widely used for anatomic severity assessments. The ISS is the sum of the squares of a patientâ??s three worst Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) severities (1â??6) from three specified body regions. The set of three AIS severities (including 0s) is called a â??triplet.â?? ISS values of 9, 17, 18, 25, 26, 27, 29, 33, 34, 41, and 50 can originate from two unique triplets, but it is not clear whether the mortalities of the triplets are equal. A related question regards the monotonicity of the ISS, that is, whether mortality increases with successive values of ISS. This study sought to compare the mortality of equivalent ISS values from different triplets and to evaluate whether ISS is a monotonic function of mortality. METHODS:: The ISS, its corresponding three-digit triplet, and the ICISS (an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revisionâ??based competing score) were calculated for 361,381 National Trauma Data Bank patients. Fisherâ??s exact tests were used to test for mortality differences between triplets that yield the same ISS. Plots of mortality by score value were produced to visually assess the monotonicity of the ICISS and the ISS. RESULTS:: Six of the 11 triplet pairs had mortalities that differed by greater than 20%, with the largest difference being 32% for an ISS of 25 (triplets 0, 0, 5 and 0, 3, 4). Two other values (9 and 17) have triplet pairs whose mortality differences are less but still statistically different. The ISS is markedly nonmonotonic and is characterized by large spikes in mortality for successive ISS values. Plots of the ICISS show it to be largely monotonic. CONCLUSION:: The ISS is a nonmonotonic, triplet-dependent function of mortality. Those who persist in using the ISS to describe populations or make risk adjustments should do so cautiously, being sure to account for triplet type. These suspect ISS values appear in approximately 25% of cases.


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