Distraction external fixation in lateral compression pelvic fractures

J Orthop Trauma. Sep-Oct 2000;14(7):475-82. doi: 10.1097/00005131-200009000-00003.


Objective: To observe the results and describe the technique of closed reduction and placement of a two-pin supra-acetabular external fixator, followed by immediate weight bearing, in the treatment of displaced vertically stable lateral compression pelvic fractures.

Design: Prospective, consecutive

Setting: Regional trauma center

Patients: A consecutive series of fourteen patients with displaced, vertically stable lateral compression pelvic fractures who were transported to a regional trauma center.

Intervention: Surgical treatment with closed reduction and maintenance of the distraction force with a two-pin, single-bar, supra-acetabular external fixator, followed by immediate weight bearing.

Main outcome measurements: Healing rate and time, operative blood loss and time, quality of reduction, time to full weight-bearing, and incidence of complications, including neurovascular deficits, loss of reduction, nonunion, pin tract infections, and chronic pain.

Results: A symmetric reduction of both hemipelves was achieved in all fourteen patients. Time to healing averaged 8.2 weeks (seven to twelve weeks), and no fixator required removal before healing. There were no delayed unions or nonunions, and none of the fractures displaced significantly after initial reduction. Average surgical time was thirty-seven minutes (range, twenty-five to sixty minutes) with an estimated blood loss of less than fifty milliliters. Patients were allowed to bear full weight immediately and were able to do so without ambulatory assistive devices within an average of twelve days (range, three to eighteen days). Complications consisted of three minor pin tract infections, one temporary lateral femoral cutaneous nerve palsy, one late pin tract abscess, and one patient with chronic low-back pain.

Conclusions: Treatment of type B lateral compression injuries of the pelvic ring with anterior distraction external fixation is a highly effective yet relatively simple and minimally invasive treatment method. Surgical time and blood loss are minimal, and patients can be effectively and rapidly mobilized. Based on our experience, we believe this method to be a valuable tool in the treatment of these fractures.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Early Ambulation
  • External Fixators*
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / rehabilitation
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pelvic Bones / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pelvic Bones / injuries*
  • Pelvic Bones / surgery
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Treatment Outcome