[Total hip arthroplasty for treatment of acute acetabular fracture in elderly patients]

G Cochu, C Mabit, T Gougam, F Fiorenza, C Baertich, J-L Charissoux, J-P Arnaud
Revue de Chirurgie Orthopédique et Réparatrice de L'appareil Moteur 2007, 93 (8): 818-27

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: The standard treatment of displaced acetabular fractures is open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). In elderly patients, ORIF may not be the best option because of osteoporotic bone and the necessary period of bed rest. Primary total hip arthroplasty (THA) for displaced acetabular fractures was initiated by Westerborn in 1954. Since then, several authors described their experience and since 1986 many studies have reported good results with this type of treatment. This study assessed outcome obtained in patients treated by primary THA for acetabular fracture in the orthopedic department of the Dupuytren Teaching Hospital in Limoges.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Between 1981 and 2001, 16 patients, mean age 76.1 years (range 64-89) were treated with primary THA for recent displaced acetabular fractures. Bone loss was quantified using the SOFCOT classification for acetabular revision THA: stage III was noted in four patients (25%) and stage IV in twelve (75%). No attempts were made to achieve anatomic reduction of fracture fragments, but a reinforcement ring was used, coupled with autologous bone graft for the acetabulum. All patients were assessed clinically using the Postel-Merle d'Aubigné et Harris scores and the Devane activity scale. Radiographs were used to assess union and signs of loosening according to De Lee and Charnley and the Gruen classifications. Ossifications were quantified with the Brooker classification.

RESULTS: Mean follow-up was three years. The mean Harris hip score was 73.6 (range 47-93), and the mean Postel-Merle d'Aubigné score 13.8 (range 10-17). Twelve patients (75%) returned to their initial activity level on the Devane scale; only four decreased their daily activity by one level. All patients but one were satisfied. There was one case of partial neurological sensorial deficit. There were no postoperative dislocations. All fractures healed. There were six cases (37%) of heterotopic bone formation including grade IV ossification in one patient with a stiff hip which required surgical resection. There were five cases of radiolucent halo in one zone of the cup, and one case in two zones; all these lucencies were non-progressive and there was not sign of loosening at last follow-up.

DISCUSSION: Orthopedic treatment for displaced acetabular fractures in elderly patients may not be suitable because of the risk of complications due to the prolonged period of decubitus. ORIF requires one surgery, but may nevertheless lead to a second operation because of osteoarthritis. Primary THA has many advantages: full weight bearing is achieved rapidly, decubitus complications are avoided, functional outcome was good with union for all of the fractures in our series. Nevertheless, despite differences between surgical procedures reported in the literature, ectopic ossifications are common and the overall rate of dislocation reaches 7% considering all reported series.

CONCLUSIONS: In selected patients with a displaced acetabular fracture, we believe that an acute THA may provide several advantages including only one procedure and quick weight bearing with a lower rate of decubitus complications. In this small series, functional outcome was good for most of the patients who recovered their initial activity level.

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