[Concept for treatment of pelvic ring injuries in elderly patients. A challenge]

U Culemann, A Scola, G Tosounidis, T Pohlemann, F Gebhard
Der Unfallchirurg 2010, 113 (4): 258-71
Whereas pelvic injuries in patients in their 20s and 30s are typically caused by high energy trauma, another group suffering this injury are elderly patients between the seventh and eighth decades of life. Due to osteoporosis and co-morbidities females are particularly affected by low energy trauma. After examining the medical history a physical examination of the pelvis is performed. This is followed by imaging with X-ray and CT scanning with 3D reconstruction if necessary. If there are concomitant injuries additional diagnostics are essential (e.g. sonography, MRI, retrograde ureterography, cystography and excretion urogram). The standard AO/ATO classification (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen/Orthopedic Trauma Association) has been well proven and does not depend on the age of the patient. Three different fracture types are differentiated, types A, B and C. This classification in combination with the description of the affected anatomical region (e.g. transsymphysis, transpubic, etc.) is sufficient in the daily clinical practice to decide on the necessary treatment. Often there are diagnostic difficulties in elderly patients (so-called differentiation of the A-B problem). In these patients a type A fracture is initially diagnosed and treated conservatively but due to persistent pain the imaging is repeated and an additional (insufficiency) fracture is found. With this new information the therapeutic regime has to be changed. The reconstruction of the pelvic ring is of major importance especially for elderly patients. This reduces the pain and the primary objective, an earliest possible rehabilitation without prolonged immobilization, can be achieved. In elderly patients external fixation with supra-acetabular screw positioning is an effective procedure and secondary insufficiency-instability (mostly dorsal) can be avoided. Whereas type A fractures can almost exclusively be treated non-surgically, types B and C fractures usually need surgery. As in young patients type B fractures are stabilized ventrally and C fractures dorsoventrally. In an emergency supra-acetabular external fixation and when required extraperitoneal tamponade has been established as the standard treatment for elderly patients in Germany. For the definitive surgical management standard procedures are used, but they often have to be modified depending on the bone structure.

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