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Impact of early operative pelvic fixation on long-term self-reported outcome following severe pelvic fracture

Sharpe, John P. MD, MS; Magnotti, Louis J. MD; Gobbell, Wade C.; Huang, Xin; Perez, Edward A. MD; Fabian, Timothy C. MD; Croce, Martin A. MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: March 2017 - Volume 82 - Issue 3 - p 444–450
doi: 10.1097/TA.0000000000001346
AAST 2016 Plenary Papers
Editor's Choice

Background Traumatic disruption of the pelvic ring is a significant cause of life-threatening hemorrhage. For those patients who survive the initial injury, these fractures are associated with long periods of immobilization and intense rehabilitation. There is little published information available regarding long-term functional outcomes in these patients. This study evaluated the impact of severe pelvic fractures on those long-term outcomes.

Methods All patients with severe pelvic fractures over an 18-year period were identified. Severe pelvic fractures were defined as those with vascular disruption, open-book component with symphysis diastasis, or sacroiliac disruption with vertical shear. Functional outcome was measured using the Boston University Activity Measure for Post–Acute Care to assess mobility (normal, >84) and daily activity (normal, >84). Multiple linear regression analysis was used to identify predictors of functional outcome after severe pelvic fracture.

Results From January 1996 to September 2014, 401 patients were identified: 240 (60%) men and 161 (40%) women. Overall mortality was 29%. Of the 285 survivors, follow-up was obtained in 145 patients (51%). Mean follow-up was 8.3 years, with a maximum of 20 years. Mean age and Injury Severity Score were 53 years and 27, respectively. Mean Activity Measure for Post–Acute Care scores for mobility and daily activity were 55 and 63, respectively; both signifying significant impairment when compared with normal. Multiple linear regression analysis using age, traumatic brain injury, transfusions, Injury Severity Score, ventilator days, presence of associated lower-extremity fractures, and time to operative pelvic fixation identified time to pelvic fixation as the only predictor of decreased mobility (β = −0.74, p = 0.04) and activity (β = −0.21, p = 0.03) following severe pelvic fracture.

Conclusions Prolonged time to operative pelvic fixation led to worse long-term functional outcomes in patients with severe pelvic ring disruption. Early fixation of the pelvic ring is the only potentially modifiable risk factor for decreased functional outcomes in patients with severe pelvic fractures.

Level of Evidence Therapeutic study, level IV.

From the Department of Surgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee.

Submitted: August 1, 2016, Revised: November 8, 2016, Accepted: November 16, 2016, Published online: December 23, 2016.

This study was presented at the 75th annual meeting of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, September 14–17, 2016, in Hilton Waikoloa Village, Hawaii.

Address for reprints: John P. Sharpe, MD, Department of Surgery, 910 Madison Ave #210, Memphis, TN 38163; email:

© 2017 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.