Functional outcomes after open reconstruction or nonoperative management of 81 pathologic acetabular fractures from metastatic bone disease

Christopher R. Leland, Carol D. Morris, Jonathan A. Forsberg, Adam S. Levin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pathologic acetabular fracture secondary to skeletal metastasis may result in debilitating pain, inability to ambulate, and impaired quality of life, which may mark the first period of dependent care in cancer patients. Acetabular reconstruction may involve morbid procedures with increased complication rates. This study aimed to evaluate the evolution of pain, performance status, and ambulation following nonoperative management or open reconstruction of pathologic acetabular fractures. Methods: A retrospective cohort of 2630 adult patients with osseous metastatic disease treated at a high-volume cancer center between 2005 and 2021 was screened for pathologic fractures of the acetabulum. The study outcomes were pain, performance status, and the ability to ambulate. We identified 78 patients (median age, 60 years; 37 female patients [46%]) with 81 fractures. Of these, treatment consisted of open reconstruction (n = 34) or nonoperative management alone (n = 47). The mean follow-up in surviving patients was 3.4 years. Results: Open reconstruction was performed more frequently for displaced fractures (P < 0.01), Harrington class III or IV acetabula (P < 0.01), and patients with a performance status ≥3 at hospitalization (P = 0.00). Open reconstruction was associated with clinically meaningful improvements in pain (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 8.3; 95% CI, 1.4–50.6; P = 0.02) and performance status (aOR, 10.9; 95% CI, 1.7–71.0; P = 0.01) at discharge and a restoration of ambulation (aOR, 7.5; 95% CI, 1.9–29.8; P < 0.01) at final follow-up. Conclusions: In patients with pathologic acetabular fracture due to osseous metastatic disease, functional improvements in pain, performance status, and ambulation were observed following open acetabular reconstruction in carefully selected patients, with no impact on survival, while noninferior improvements were observed in patients receiving nonoperative management when considering their larger clinical context. Level of evidence: Level III, therapeutic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedics
StatePublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Metastatic bone disease
  • Pathologic acetabular fracture


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