Achievable pin spanning angulation in anterosuperior pelvic external fixation

Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol. 2020 Oct;30(7):1163-1170. doi: 10.1007/s00590-020-02684-5. Epub 2020 May 1.


Introduction: Pelvic external fixation using anterosuperior pins provides a quick method of stabilization without necessitating fluoroscopic guidance. Various locations, depths, and inclinations have been cited for external fixator pins; however, the existing literature lacks clear indications for the angular difference between pins. Thus, we aimed to determine the greatest degree of sagittal pin spanning angulation (SPSA) between two iliac crest pins and how intraosseous depth (ID) affects these angulations.

Materials and methods: A newly developed computer algorithm produced cross sections of 3D pelvic reconstructions in the sagittal plane in 5° increments. Computer-generated pins with IDs of 60, 75, and 90 mm were positioned in 5° increments transversely. Pins were assessed for cortical containment to define values for SPSA and transverse pin spanning angulation (TPSA).

Results: A bimodal distribution revealed varying degrees of insertion frequency and SPSA, cranially and caudally. The caudal distribution exhibited greater cortical containment with larger values for SPSA and TPSA. The highest insertion frequency (85.7%) and largest SPSA (155°) were observed for the 60-mm ID. Increasing ID resulted in further bony penetration and smaller values for SPSA and TPSA.

Conclusions: Expanding the degree of SPSA between inserted pins in anterosuperior pelvic external fixation can be challenging due to the thinning of the iliac wing, which affords a narrow corridor for intraosseous pin containment. An ID of 60 mm allows larger degrees of SPSA while maintaining higher rates of cortical pin containment when compared to pins with greater IDs.

Keywords: Anterosuperior; Biomechanical stability; External fixation; Pelvis; Stabilization; Trauma.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Nails
  • External Fixators*
  • Fracture Fixation
  • Humans
  • Ilium / diagnostic imaging
  • Ilium / surgery
  • Pelvic Bones* / diagnostic imaging
  • Pelvic Bones* / surgery