Most pelvic fractures involve high-energy forces, such as those generated in a motor vehicle accident, crush accident or fall. Depending on the direction and degree of the force, these injuries can be life-threatening and require surgical treatment.

Symptoms

A broken pelvis is painful, often swollen and bruised. The individual may try to keep the hip or knee bent in a specific position to avoid aggravating the pain. If the fracture is due to a high-energy injury, there may also be injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, or legs. There is usually considerable bleeding, which can lead to shock. Emergency services should be called. These injuries must be stabilized and the individual taken to a trauma center for care.

Treatment

Pelvic fractures from high-energy forces require surgery. The doctor may use an external fixator to stabilize the pelvic area. This device has long screws that are inserted into the bones on each side and connected to a frame outside the body. The external fixator allows surgeons to address the internal injuries to organs, blood vessels and nerves.

What happens next depends on the type and severity of the fracture and the patient's condition. Each case must be assessed individually, particularly with unstable fractures. Some pelvic fractures may require traction. In other cases, an external fixator may be sufficient. Unstable fractures may require surgical insertion of plates or screws.

Recovery

Stable pelvic fractures heal well. Pelvic fractures sustained during a high-energy incident, such as an automobile accident, may have significant complications, including severe bleeding, internal organ damage, and infection. However, these are due more to the associated injuries than to the fracture. If these injuries are addressed, the fracture usually heals well. People may walk with a limp for several months because of damage to the muscles around the pelvis. These muscles take a long time to become strong again.