A review of blunt pelvic injuries at a major trauma centre in South Africa
Background: The collective five-year experience with the acute management of pelvic trauma at a busy South African trauma service is reviewed to compare the usefulness and applicability of current grading systems of pelvic trauma and to review the compliance with current guidelines regarding pelvic binder application during the acute phase of resuscitation.
Methods: A retrospective review was conducted over a 5-year period from December 2012 to December 2017 on all polytrauma patients who presented with a pelvic fracture. Mechanism of injury and presenting physiology and clinical course including pelvic binder application were documented. Pelvic fractures were graded according to the Young–Burgess and Tile systems.
Results: There was a cohort of 129 patients for analysis. Eighty-one were male and 48 female with a mean age was 33.6 ± 13.1 years. Motor vehicle-related collisions (MVCs) were the main mechanism of injury (50.33%) and pedestrian vehicle collisions (PVCs) were the second most common (37.98%). The most common associated injuries were abdominal injuries (41%), chest injury (37%), femur fractures (21%), tibia fractures (15%) and humerus fracture (14.7%). Thirty patients in this cohort (23%) underwent a laparotomy. They were mainly in the Tile B (70%) and lateral compression (63%) groups. Nine patients underwent pelvic pre-peritoneal packing. Thirty-five (27%) patients were admitted to ICU. Fifteen (12%) patients died. The Young–Burgess classification had a greater accuracy in predicting death than the Tile classification. Forty per cent of deaths occurred in ICU, 33% died secondary to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Twenty per cent died in casualty and 6.6% in the operating room from ongoing haemorrhage. A pelvic binder was not applied in 66% of patients. In the 34% of patients who had a pelvic binder applied, it was applied post CT scan in 24.8%, in the pre-hospital setting in 7.2%, and on arrival in 2.4% of patients. In 73% of deaths, a binder was not applied, and of those deaths, 54% showed signs of haemodynamic instability.
Conclusion: It would appear that our application of pelvic binders in patients with acute pelvic trauma is ad hoc. Appropriate selection of patients, who may benefit from a binder and it’s timely application, has the potential to improve outcome in these patients.
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