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

Get a personal Preventive Care Recommendatio now.

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.

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