Open pelvic fracture: A lethal injury

David A Rothenberger, Roberto Velasco, Richard Strate, Ronald P. Fischer, John F. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Twenty-two of 604 patients (4%) with pelvic fracture (PF) had open fractures. Eight per cent of all pedestrian and motorcycle accidents resulted in open PF, compared to 0.8% of all vehicular accidents. With one exception, all patients sustained multiple injuries. The mortality rate for an open PF was 50%, in marked contrast to 10.5% for a closed PF. Of more importance, the pelvic fracture was the primary cause of death in 73% of those dying with an open PF and in 30% of those dying with a closed PF. The higher mortality is due to an increased risk of infection and to massive hemorrhage because of a high risk of concomitant major vessel injury, as well as increased diffuse retroperitoneal hemorrhage, in these open fractures. Therapy directed to restoring blood volume, identifying and repairing major vessel injury, and attempting to decrease the diffuse retroperitoneal hemorrhage is essential. If drainage is necessary, it should be accomplished with a closed system. Immediate colostomy and use of antibiotics should decrease the infectious complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-187
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1978


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