Is colostomy always necessary in the treatment of open pelvic fractures?

J Trauma. 1998 Aug;45(2):371-3. doi: 10.1097/00005373-199808000-00029.


Background: Wound management in open pelvic fractures has used fecal diversion, debridement, and closure by secondary intention to prevent pelvic sepsis. Colostomy care and takedown adds to the morbidity and resource utilization of this approach. We reviewed our experience to determine if a selective approach to fecal diversion based on wound location was possible.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of patients admitted to a Level I trauma center during an 8-year period. Fractures were classified as open if the fracture was in continuity with the wound. Wounds were classified as perineal if they involved the rectum, ischiorectal fossa, or genitalia, and as nonperineal if they involved the pubis anteriorly, iliac crest, or anterior thigh. Pelvic sepsis was defined as cellulitis, fasciitis, or infection of a pelvic hematoma. Diversion consisted of loop or end colostomy.

Results: Eighteen patients with open fractures were identified. Four died from closed head injury and blood loss. The remaining 14 were treated as follows. Five patients with perineal wounds had diversion of their fecal stream. Their Injury Severity Score was 34 +/- 8.3 and their Revised Trauma Score was 7.69 +/- 0.15. No patient developed pelvic sepsis. Nine patients with nonperineal wounds did not undergo diversion. Their Injury Severity Score was 28.6 +/- 5.3 and their Revised Trauma Score was 7.36 +/- 0.45. No patients developed pelvic sepsis in the nondiverted group.

Conclusion: No patients with anterior wounds and an intact fecal stream developed pelvic sepsis. Colostomy may not be necessary in all patients with open pelvic fracture. Protocols using fecal diversion based on wound location appear to be safe and may decrease resource utilization and subsequent morbidity related to colostomy closure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Colostomy* / adverse effects
  • Colostomy* / methods
  • Female
  • Fractures, Open / complications
  • Fractures, Open / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Pelvic Bones / injuries*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sepsis / etiology