Military experience in the management of pelvic fractures from OIF/OEF

William Parker*, R. W. Despain, J. Bailey, E. Elster, C. J. Rodriguez, M. Bradley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction Pelvic fractures are a common occurrence in combat trauma. However, the fracture pattern and management within the most recent conflicts, i.e. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), have yet to be described, especially in the context of dismounted complex blast injury. Our goal was to identify the incidence, patterns of injury and management of pelvic fractures. Methods We conducted a retrospective review on all combat-injured patients who arrived at our military treatment hospital between November 2010 and November 2012. Basic demographics, Young-Burgess fracture pattern classification and treatment strategies were examined. Results Of 562 patients identified within the study time period, 14% (81 of 562) were found to have a pelvic fracture. The vast majority (85%) were secondary to an improvised explosive device. The average Injury Severity Score for patients with pelvic fracture was 31±12 and 70% were classified as open. Of the 228 patients with any traumatic lower extremity amputation, 23% had pelvic fractures, while 30% of patients with bilateral above-knee amputations also sustained a pelvic fracture. The most common Young-Burgess injury pattern was anteroposterior compression (APC) (57%), followed by lateral compression (LC) (36%) and vertical shear (VS) (7%). Only 2% (nine of 562) of all patients were recorded as having pelvic binders placed in the prehospital setting. 49% of patients with pelvic fracture required procedural therapy, the most common of which was placement of a pelvic external fixator (34 of 40; 85%), followed by preperitoneal packing (16 of 40; 40%) and angioembolisation (three of 40; 0.75%). 17 (42.5%) patients required combinations of these three treatment modalities, the majority of which were a combination of external fixator and preperitoneal packing. The likelihood to need procedural therapy was impacted by injury pattern, as 72% of patients with an APC injury, 100% of patients with a VS injury and 25% of patients with an LC injury required procedural therapy. Conclusions Pelvic fractures were common concomitant injuries following blast-induced traumatic lower extremity amputations. APC was the most common pelvic fracture pattern identified. While procedural therapy was frequent, the majority of patients underwent conservative therapy. However, placement of an external fixator was the most frequently used modality. Considering angioembolisation was used in less than 1% of cases, in the forward deployed military environment, management should focus on pelvic external fixation±preperitoneal packing. Finally, prehospital pelvic binder application may be an area for further process improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-111
Number of pages4
JournalBMJ Military Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • adult orthopaedics
  • adult surgery
  • hip
  • trauma management


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