The outcome of open pelvic fractures in the modern era

Christopher J. Dente*, David V. Feliciano, Grace S. Rozycki, Amy D. Wyrzykowski, Jeffrey M. Nicholas, Jeffrey P. Salomone, Walter L. Ingram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Background: Recent series have reported that the mortality rate of open pelvic fractures has decreased to <10%. These injuries are often associated with intra-abdominal visceral damage, although few series have documented the prognostic significance of this injury complex. Methods: A retrospective review in an urban level I trauma center of all patients who sustained open pelvic fracture between 1995 and 2004. Results: Forty-four patients were identified as having sustained open pelvic fracture. Average Injury Severity Score was 30, with 77% of patients having a score ≥16. Overall mortality was 45% (n = 20): 11 early deaths and 9 late deaths at an average of 17 days. Vertical shear injuries, although rare, were universally fatal. Other risk factors for overall mortality included revised trauma score, Injury Severity Score, transfusion requirement, Faringer zones I or II injury, Gustilo grade III soft tissue injury, need for therapeutic angiography, and presence of intra-abdominal injury, the latter of which conferred 89% mortality. Risk factors for late deaths also included pelvic sepsis, which occurred in 5 patients and was fatal in 3 (60%). Conclusions: The morbidity of open pelvic fractures remains high. Associated intra-abdominal injury or active arterial bleeding requiring therapeutic angiography is associated with a grim prognosis. There is a continuing need for new therapeutic approaches to this injury complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-837
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Damage-control surgery
  • Mortality
  • Open fracture
  • Pelvic fracture
  • Trauma


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