Pelvis Fracture Treatment & Surgery
The right treatment for your pelvis fracture are determined by a few important factors, such as your age, present health, health history, the extent and location of the fracture and your history with other medications and treatments. Pelvis fracture is a complete or partial break in one of the three bones in the pelvic ring located in the trunk of the body.
Pelvic Fracture Diagnosis
A pelvis fracture can be dangerous because it limits the ability of the pelvic bones to protect the internal organs they surround. If you have any reason to believe that you may have sustained this injury, it is important to receive immediate medical attention. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will start by asking you questions about your past medical history and your activity before seeking treatment. To locate the specific site of the fracture, the following techniques are used:
- X-Ray (Radiograph) – This will likely be the first test performed. It is done by sending electromagnetic radiation through your body to produce images of your pelvis in order to find the exact location of the fracture. Bone stands out in a radiograph because it absorbs the radiation and can provide your doctor with images that will show the severity of the fracture.
- Computed Tomography Scan (CT or CAT scan) – A CAT scan uses X-ray technology combined with computer technology to enhance the image provided. This may be used in more complicated fractures.
- Ultrasound – An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images that can show any internal bleeding that may have occurred during the fracture.
- Urethrography – In some instances, the bladder or urethra becomes damaged. Depending on the location of the fracture, the doctor may inject dye into your urethra to look for any injuries.
- Arteriography – This is another common test to check for internal bleeding. Similar to the urethrography, dye is injected into the blood stream to look for any areas where there may be internal bleeding due to the injury.
Nonsurgical Treatment for Pelvis Fractures
If the pelvis fracture is stable, which in many cases is difficult to determine, nonsurgical repair is possible. This is particularly true in the young and the elderly You will likely be able to put full or partial weight down while the fracture is healing. You will likely require the use of crutches or a walker to get around. Throughout this time, many patients use blood thinners to prevent blood clots.
Surgery for Pelvis Fractures
In some cases, a pelvis fracture requires surgery. The goal of most pelvis fracture surgeries is to reconnect the broken ends of the bone and prevent them from moving as they heal, which could cause further damage to the surrounding vital organs. The majority of pelvis fractures are surgically treated in one of the following ways:
- External Fixation – Pins are placed through the skin and into the pelvis. These pins are connected by carbon fiber rods to stabilize the fractue. This is done whenever there is significant trauma to the skin and tissue, which would increase the risk of infection if an incision were made.
- Metal Plates and Screws – In some cases, metal plates and screws may be placed directly on the bone to keep it more stable. This is done when there is little or no trauma to the surrounding tissues.
- Pins – In cases where the fracture occurs close to the thighbone, pins may be used to hold the joint in place. These pins are usually used on younger patients whose bones are still growing and do not require the strong stability of plates and screws, which can limit proper growth.
Pelvis Fracture Research
Much of the research surrounding pelvis fractures has to do with how they are diagnosed. Because the pelvis surrounds such important organs, a fracture can lead to multiple complications, such as hemorrhaging. This makes it very important to diagnose each injury appropriately, although this can be difficult to quantify in a clinical setting.
The pelvis is a set of bones in the shape of a ring that surrounds many vital organs, such as the bladder. In as many as 25% of all pelvis fracture incidents, patients have also sustained injuries to their bladder as a result of the trauma. In 40% of all incidents, patients sustained injuries to their abdomen as well. Because of these additional injuries, mortality rates increase dramatically, with as many as 55% of all pelvic fracture cases leading to mortality due to other injuries and complications with hemorrhaging. These high numbers show the need for proper diagnosis as soon as patients arrive for care.
Researchers are working to prevent these complications by improving the imaging and testing done when a patient arrives. Right now, the state of the fracture must be inferred by the doctor based on the limited imaging available. As imaging technology improves and other imaging practices are studied, more accurate diagnoses can take place. Furthermore, with other advances in technology, computer-assisted surgeries can be performed, improving the accuracy of treatment. So far, researchers have had success with computer-assisted surgeries when performing osteotomies, which is helping pave the path to more complicated computer-assisted surgeries.
As research on diagnosis and treatment is ongoing, it is a good idea for your conversation about it with your doctor to be ongoing as well.
The Rehabilitation Network of the North Shore-LIJ Health System is dedicated to providing you and your family with result-oriented, comprehensive rehabilitation services. Our goal is to help you and your loved ones find relief from pain and get moving again after an accident, illness, injury or surgery. We’re your partner in a safe, healthy, more rapid recovery.
The multidisciplinary team of orthopaedic experts at North Shore-LIJ Orthopaedic Institute's Trauma Services in New York performs Pelvis Fracture surgery as well as a broad range of nonsurgical and surgical treatments for conditions that affect the bones.
To learn more about fractures, visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).