Background: The primary goal of treatment for open book pelvic injuries after high-energy trauma is to control haemorrhage and to close the pelvic ring anatomically. Less commonly, patients may present late with malunion or non-union.
Methods: We reviewed five operatively treated patients with delayed severe open book deformities who had a diastasis of more than 6 cm. We describe the pre-operative workup, surgical strategy and challenges experienced. They specifically include: extensive scar and contracture formation, malunion, urogenital prolapse and difficult reduction of vertical shear element. A 5 to 15-point clinical scoring system based on quality of life regarding pain, ambulation, social function, continence control and presence of prolapse is proposed.
Results: One elderly patient had early mortality after surgery. The other four patients had quality of life improvement by 3 to 5 points after one year. Correction is often clinically successful despite technical challenges and unpredictable radiological results.
Conclusion: External fixator and the C-clamp are good reduction tools. Powerful implants should be used and fixation of the posterior ring is mandatory. Staged urogenital and pelvic floor reconstruction is recommended before bony reconstruction to minimize the risk of wound contamination. Patients receiving this complex procedure have a good chance for improvement in pain and functional status.
Keywords: Internal fixation; Malunion; Non-union; Pelvic ring fractures.