What is a Pelvic Fracture?

A pelvic fracture is a break in the bony structure of the pelvis. This includes the hip bone, sacrum, and coccyx.

A fracture in the pelvis can either be stable or unstable, depending on the extent of hip damage.

In a stable pelvic fracture, there is only one break in the pelvic ring and the broken ends of the bone line up well. On the other hand, an unstable pelvic fracture is the type of fracture with two or more breaks in the pelvic ring. Unlike the stable type, the ends of the broken bone in an unstable fracture do not line up correctly.

Causes of Pelvic Fracture

Pelvic fractures can be caused by high-energy trauma such as a motorcycle collision or fall from a significant height and bone weakness or insufficiency.

Symptoms of a Pelvic Fracture

Pain is the most common symptom of a pelvic fracture. This is usually felt in the hip or groin area and worsens when the hip is moved such as when walking.

Aside from pain, there can also be tenderness in the groin, hip, lower back, or buttocks, swelling and bruising over the pelvic bones, numbness or tingling sensation in the upper thigh or genital area, and in cases of unstable pelvic fracture, heavy bleeding.

Diagnosing a Pelvic Fracture

Diagnosis of a pelvic fracture is made after a thorough physical exam and imaging tests.

During the physical exam, the doctor will assess the pelvis, hips, and legs. He/she will check for possibility of nerve injury or damage by evaluating the movement and sensation on the ankles, feet, and toes.

In most cases, imaging tests are requested in order to determine the complexity of the injury. These tests include x-rays, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

How It Is Treated

Treatment plans for a pelvic fracture depend on several factors. These include the pattern of the fracture, the displacement of the bones, and the overall condition of the patient.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment is usually recommended for stable fractures that are not or minimally displaced.

Some of the nonsurgical treatment options for a pelvic fracture include the use of walking aids to avoid bearing the weight on the affected side and pain medications to relieve the discomfort.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is typically recommended for cases of unstable pelvic fracture.

Some of the surgical options for a fractured pelvis include the use of external fixation and skeletal traction and open reduction and internal fixation.