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SA Orthopaedic Journal

On-line version ISSN 2309-8309
Print version ISSN 1681-150X


MBATHA, Sandile T; DUMA, Mlekeleli TN; MAQUNGO, Sithombo  and  MARAIS, Leonard C. Complications of surgically managed pelvic and acetabular fractures. SA orthop. j. [online]. 2023, vol.22, n.2, pp.68-74. ISSN 2309-8309.

BACKGROUND: High energy pelvic and acetabular fractures frequently occur in conjunction with multiple system injuries and have been associated with morbidity and mortality. We aimed to identify the risk factors associated with complications in patients with pelvic and/or acetabular fractures treated surgically in a resource-constrained clinical setting. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of adult patients younger than 65 years treated surgically over a three-year period at a tertiary and regional hospitals in South Africa. Epidemiological data as well as trauma-, fracture- and treatment-related factors were compared in patients who developed complications and those who did not, at a mean follow-up of ten months (interquartile range 4-14 months; range 0-31. RESULTS: Eighty-eight patients were included. Complications were encountered in 41% of the cohort. Factors associated with adverse events were age above 35 years (p = 0.008); transverse sacral fractures (p = 0.008); partial articular acetabular fractures with isolated column and/or wall involvement (p = 0.014); Kocher-Langenbeck approach (p = 0.001); posterior acetabular wall fixation (p = 0.002); fixation with plate and screws (p = 0.012); and follow-up period more than 6 months (p = 0.025). Complications encountered were heterotopic ossification, postoperative sepsis, unplanned reoperation, implant failure, postoperative neurological deficit, venous thromboembolism, femoral head osteonecrosis, osteoarthritis and limb length discrepancy. No association was found between adverse events and injury severity score, comorbidities or other associated injuries. CONCLUSION: Complications were common within three years in patients with pelvic and acetabular fractures treated surgically in a developing setting. While an increased Injury Severity Score was not associated with complications, certain fracture- and surgery-related factors may be associated with an increased risk. Heterotopic ossification was the most common adverse event despite formal gluteus minimus debridement and the use of NSAIDs. Further studies are needed to determine the medium- to long-term complications as well as the functional outcome of surgery and the complications of surgery. Level of evidence: Level 4.

Keywords : acetabular fracture; pelvic fracture; complication; surgical.

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