The open blast pelvis: The significant burden of management

Adaikalavan Ramasamy, S. Evans, J. M. Kendrew, J. Cooper

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27 Citations (Scopus)


The open blast fracture of the pelvis is considered to be the most severe injury within the spectrum of battlefield trauma. We report our experience of 29 consecutive patients who had sustained this injury in Afghanistan between 2008 and 2010. Their median new injury severity score (NISS) was 41 (8 to 75), and mean blood requirement in the first 24 hours was 60.3 units (0 to 224). In addition to their orthopaedic injury, six had an associated vascular injury, seven had a bowel injury, 11 had a genital injury and seven had a bladder injury. In all, eight fractures were managed definitively with external fixation and seven required internal fixation. Of those patients who underwent internal fixation, four required removal of metalwork for infection. Faecal diversion was performed in nine cases. The median length of hospital stay following emergency repatriation to the United Kingdom was 70.5 days (5 to 357) and the mean total operating time was 29.6 hours (5 to 187). At a mean follow-up of 20.3 months (13.2 to 29.9), 24 patients (82.8%) were able to walk and 26 (89.7%) had clinical and radiological evidence of stability of the pelvic ring. As a result of the increase in terrorism, injuries that were previously confined exclusively to warfare can now occur anywhere, with civilian surgeons who are involved in trauma care potentially required to manage similar injuries. Our study demonstrates that the management of this injury pattern demands huge resources and significant multidisciplinary input. Given the nature of the soft-tissue injury, we would advocate external fixation as the preferred management of these fractures. With the advent of emerging wound and faecal management techniques, we do not believe that faecal diversion is necessary in all cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-835
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, British Volume
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

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