Pelvic ring fractures can affect any part of the pelvis and may be very complicated to treat. An orthopaedic surgeon may need to stabilise the pelvis while it heals or to operate to repair the damaged bone.
The pelvis is a ring of bone that includes the sockets of your hip joints. It is also known as the pelvic ring due to its shape. Fractures can occur to different parts of the pelvic ring, including the hip bones, sacrum and coccyx. In younger patients, fractures are most often caused by serious trauma including falls, crush injuries, and vehicular accidents. However, in older patients even a minor fall can result in a pelvic fracture that may require surgery.
Pelvic fractures can be complicated due to the shape of the pelvis and the many important organs, blood vessels and nerves passing through it. Scans such as X-rays, MRIs and CT scans will usually be needed in order to understand which parts of the bone are damaged and how they can be repaired. The treatment approach will also have to take into account any damage to the surrounding bones or tissue so careful planning is required before surgery can proceed.
Pelvic fractures usually require emergency medical care when caused by an accident, although small fractures due to weakening of the bone may be less urgent. The first priority for a pelvic ring fracture will be to stabilise the bone and treat any associated trauma, such as bleeding. An orthopaedic surgeon can then assess the injury and advise on any treatment that is required to reconstruct the pelvis.
Surgery isn’t needed for every pelvic ring fracture, but it is often required when the injury is the result of high-energy trauma rather than a low impact fall in an older person. The surgeon may recommend external fixation to stabilise the pelvic area. The bone will then be pinned in place and supported by an external frame. Another option is surgery to reconstruct the pelvic ring. The surgeon can reposition the bones and insert screws or plates to repair the damage.
Recovering from a pelvic ring fracture requires rest and careful rehabilitation. Patients will usually be put on bed rest at first while the fracture heels and may need traction. Sometimes this can be removed after surgery but in other cases it will need to remain in place even after the bone has been repaired. Once the patient is able to stand, physiotherapy can then help to restore mobility over the following months.
If you need advice on a pelvic ring fracture, get in touch to arrange a consultation with an experienced orthopaedic surgeon. The doctor will be able to advise you on your treatment and ensure that you receive the best possible care.