The majority of pelvic fractures involve high-impact forces as in motor vehicle accidents or falls from great heights. Pelvic fractures can be life-threatening and require surgery. They can be open or closed and are further classified as:
- stable – only one break and limited bleeding, the bones are not displaced
- unstable – two or more breaks, moderate to excessive bleeding, the bones are displaced
A pelvic fracture should be suspected and investigated if there is bone tenderness, difficulty walking, or loss of nerve function in the lower body. Additional symptoms may include:
- abdominal pain
- numbness or tingling in the groin or down the legs
- bleeding from any lower body cavity
- difficulty urinating
In severe fractures, the victim needs immediate medical attention because of the possibility of shock, extensive internal bleeding, nerve damage, soft tissue damage, and organ damage. The injuries must be stabilized; advanced trauma life support management may be required.
Pelvic Fracture Treatment
Pelvic fractures require x-rays to determine the best course of surgery and sometimes a CT scan will be ordered to define the extent of the associated injuries. External fixators may be used to stabilize the pelvic area, allowing surgeons to address the injuries to the nerves, blood vessels, and organs. Unstable fractures may require the insertion of plates or screws.
It takes many months of rehabilitation and physical therapy to recover from a pelvic fracture. There is no guarantee of a full recovery. Long-term complications may include:
- limp due to damage to musculature
- impaired mobility
- sexual dysfunction
- nerve damage
- issues as a result of any organ damage (e.g. kidney failure, leaking bladder)
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