This retrospective, institutional review board approved study with no patients excluded was designed to test the hypothesis that the prone position is advantageous for repair of acetabular fractures, via a posterior approach.
In 104 consecutive cases fixed by open reduction and internal fixation using the Kocher-Langenbeck approach, 50 were performed in the prone position and 54 in the lateral position by four attending surgeons at a level I trauma center. These cases were assigned to each surgeon according to the call schedule and positioned on the operating table depending on the preference of the assigned surgeon. Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer Osteosynthese/Association for the Study of Internal Fixation (AO/ASIF) classification and radiologic outcome were evaluated by standard radiographs of the hip and computerized tomography scans, demographic data were taken from the medical records. Except for the time from injury to surgery (p = 0.003), both groups were comparable, nevertheless the fractures were more severe in the prone one.
With equivalent radiologic outcomes according to Matta, Brooker, Epstein, and Helfet between both groups, a significantly higher rate of infection (p = 0.017) and need for revision surgery (p = 0.009) were found in the prone group.
No advantage to either position for the posterior approach to acetabular fractures could be found. Because most of the severe fractures were performed prone, we propose that the larger number of more difficult fractures in this group may cause an increased likelihood of loss of reduction. The higher infection rate in the prone group may be caused by the longer inpatient wait for definitive fixation, leading to a higher risk of nosocomial colonization.