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Pelvic Fracture

Definition

A pelvic fracture is one or more breaks in bones of the pelvis. The pelvis is a bowl-shaped structure between the belly and legs. A fracture in this area can range from mild to life-threatening.

Pelvic Trauma
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Causes

Pelvic fractures are caused by hard impact injuries such as:

  • Car or motorcycle accidents
  • Being run over by something heavy
  • Falls
  • High-impact sports injuries

Risk Factors

Things that raise the risk of a pelvic fracture are:

  • A history of falls
  • Playing sports
  • Weak bones, such as with— osteoporosis
  • Decreased muscle strength

Symptoms

Symptoms of a pelvic fracture may be:

  • Pelvic or groin pain
  • Pain upon walking, or not being able to walk
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Feeling of a pulled muscle

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood and urine tests may be done.

Imaging tests of the area may be taken to look at injuries in the area. The may include:

Treatment

The goals are to heal the fracture, ease pain, and prevent other problems. Serious problems such as bleeding or shock will need care right away. The pelvis bones will be wrapped to set them in place.

Treatment depends on how serious the fracture is.

Minor, stable fractures will heal without surgery.

Unstable fractures will need surgery. Options are:

  • An external fixation device to hold the bones in place. Screws are placed through the bones to a frame outside the pelvis.
  • Pins, screws, or plates are placed inside the bones to hold them in place.

Care will also include:

  • Medicines to ease pain and prevent blood clots
  • Bed rest—to help the bones heal
  • Physical therapy—to help keep bones and muscles working

Healing can take 4 weeks to several months. It depends on how severe the injuries are.

Prevention

Most fractures are due to accidents. Some can be prevented with proper safety.

RESOURCES:

American Pediatric Surgical Association
https://apsapedsurg.org/

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Women's Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

REFERENCES:

Coccolini F, Stahel PF, et al. Pelvic trauma: WSES classification and guidelines. World J Emerg Surg. 2017;12:5.

Pelvic fracture—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/pelvic-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed August 10, 2021.

Pelvis fractures. American Academy of Othopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/pelvic-fractures/ . Accessed August 10, 2021.

Pelvic fractures. Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America website. Available at: https://posna.org/Physician-Education/Study-Guide/Pelvic-Fractures. Accessed August 10, 2021.

Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 8/10/2021