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Open Reduction and Internal Fixation of Acetabular Fractures Using the Modified Stoppa Approach

Tannast, Moritz, MD1; Keel, Marius J. B., MD1,2; Siebenrock, Klaus-Arno, MD1; Bastian, Johannes D., MD1

JBJS Essential Surgical Techniques: March 26, 2019 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p e3
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.ST.18.00034
Subspecialty Procedures

Background: The modified Stoppa approach is performed for safe and efficient management of acetabular fractures involving the anterior column. This approach avoids dissection of the inguinal canal, the femoral nerve, and the external iliac vessels as seen in the “second window” of the ilioinguinal approach and has thus been shown to be less invasive than the ilioinguinal approach1. As an intrapelvic approach, it facilitates the management of medial displacement fracture patterns involving the quadrilateral plate and dome impaction that typically occur in the elderly2,3. The reduced morbidity of this approach is of particular relevance for elderly patients who must respond to the stresses of injury and surgery with diminished physiological reserves.

Description: The specific surgical steps include preoperative planning, patient positioning and setup, a Pfannenstiel incision, superficial and deep dissection, development of the Retzius space and retraction of the bladder, exposure of the superior pubic ramus and iliopectineal eminence, dissection and ligation of a potential corona mortis, exposure of the obturator nerve and vessels, subperiosteal preparation of the pubic ramus with retraction of the external iliac vessels, subperiosteal exposure of the quadrilateral plate with detachment of the internal obturator muscle and exposure of the posterior column, assessment of residual displacement by fluoroscopic views, longitudinal soft-tissue or lateral skeletal traction (optional) for reduction of medial displacement of the femoral head, disimpaction of the acetabular dome fragment and grafting of the supra-acetabular void (optional) under fluoroscopic and arthroscopic (optional) control, and reduction and fixation of extra-articular components (iliac wing posteriorly and pubic ramus anteriorly), the posterior column (infra-acetabular screw), and the quadrilateral plate (buttress plate). Before wound closure, the urine output is checked for occurrence of hematuria, an indication of bladder penetration. The anterior lamina of the rectus sheath is then sutured, and a layered closure performed.

Alternatives: The ilioinguinal approach might be used instead.

Rationale: The modified Stoppa approach avoids dissection within the inguinal canal, the second window of the ilioinguinal approach. Therefore, this approach is less invasive and might be an alternative for joint-preserving surgery, especially in the elderly.

1Department of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery, Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

2Trauma Center Hirslanden, Clinic Hirslanden, Zürich, Switzerland

E-mail address for J.D. Bastian:

Disclosure: The authors indicated that no external funding was received for any aspect of this work. The Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest forms are provided with the online version of the article (

Copyright © 2019 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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