The increasing incidence of severe pelvic injury in motor vehicle collisions

Injury. 2004 Aug;35(8):759-65. doi: 10.1016/S0020-1383(03)00308-5.


Background: Pelvic fractures constitute a major cause of death and residual disability in motor vehicle collisions (MVC). To date there has been poor documentation of the epidemiology of severe pelvic injuries. A detailed retrospective examination of all abbreviated injury score (AIS) > or = 4 pelvic fractures sustained in occupants of MVCs seen at this lead trauma hospital over the last 12 years and in the province of Ontario over the last 6 years was completed.

Methods: The regional trauma centre registry and provincial database were used to obtain demographics, injuries, course in hospital and crash data on patients sustaining AIS > or = 4 pelvic injuries between May 1988 and April 2000. Data was analysed for drivers (D), front (FP) and rear (RP) passengers in 4-year blocks. Means (S.D.) with t-test for continuous and chi2 for categorical data were used for analysis.

Results: AIS > or = 4 pelvic fractures increased significantly in D and FP over 12 years and in RP over the last 8 years. Similar significant increases were seen throughout the province over the last 6 years. No significant change in age, sex, ISS or referral patterns was seen. Lateral impact collisions also increased over the study duration. Occupants with pelvic injury compared to all MVC survivors ISS > or = 16 during the same study period had a higher ISS (P < 0.001), utilised more blood in 24h and in total (P < 0.001) and died more frequently (P < 0.001). However, significantly fewer required ICU support (P < 0.01) which may reflect the associated injuries. Patients with pelvic fractures had significantly fewer head and chest injuries as well as fewer face and neck injuries. They did have significantly more injuries in the region of the pelvis including lumbar and sacral spine fractures, genitourinary, liver, spleen and lower extremity blood vessel, nerve and bone injuries.

Conclusion: This study documented an increasing incidence of severe pelvic injury resulting from MVCs. This may be related to an associated increase in the incidence of lateral impact collisions. The role of side impact protection and side airbags, introduced to decrease injury severity in lateral impact collisions will require further study.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Pelvic Bones / injuries*