Broken pelvis

In younger patients, a broken pelvis usually results from an accident involving heavy external trauma.

Overview

In younger patients, a broken pelvis usually results from an accident involving heavy external trauma. Older people (especially if they suffer from osteoporosis) can sometimes break their pelvis simply by falling down. A pelvic fracture causes pain in the hip area, a protective limp, and sometimes also misalignment and an inability to walk. Symptoms range from quite mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Pain, protective limp, possibly inability to walk
  • Oblique pelvis and difference in leg length
  • Complicated and multiple fractures: loss of stability and symptoms of additional injuries
    • Often accompanied by additional injuries to internal organs (intestines, bladder, diaphragm, blood vessels, nerves or other bone fractures)

Complications

  • In serious accidents with high kinetic energy: entire body is affected (whole body trauma), risk of life-threatening bleeding
  • Early arthritis of the hip joint is possible (for acetabular, i.e. hip socket, fractures)
  • Possibility of permanent misalignment if not/insufficiently stabilised by surgery

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Weakened bones (osteoporosis, older people, bone metastases)
    • Can break relatively easily, e.g. falling at home
    • Spontaneous fractures (breaks without external trauma) are possible
  • Stable, mostly young bones
    • A serious impact is required to cause a pelvic fracture (high-energy trauma, e.g. traffic accident, falling from a great height)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • General examination
  • Imaging procedures:
    • X-ray
    • CT scan (computed tomography), standard for trauma
    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
    • Ultrasound (sonography), exclusion of internal bleeding
Possible therapies
  • Stable pelvic fractures with no displacement:
    • Conservative approach (i.e. no operation)
    • Mobilisation as soon as possible
  • Displaced, unstable or open fractures, acetabular fractures and associated internal injuries:
    • Primary haemostasis
    • urgery (control of bleeding, prevention of sequelae)

What can I do myself?

A broken pelvis can't be diagnosed by sight. If a broken pelvis is suspected and the patient is unable to walk after an accident:

  • Let patient lie in a relaxed position
  • Only move the accident victim if this is necessary for applying immediate lifesaving measures
  • If the patient is likely to go into shock because of blood loss: elevate the legs
  • Organise speedy transport to a doctor or hospital

When to see a doctor?

  • Severe pain in the hips (suddenly or after an accident)
  • Misalignment, difference in leg length
  • Feeling of instability, inability to walk
  • Disorientation after a fall

Synonyms

Broken pelvis

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

Mann liegt krank auf dem Sofa
Health in an app

Discover the Well app

Check symptoms, get tips on home remedies, arrange doctor's appointments, order medication and much more.