Anterior pelvic external fixator versus subcutaneous internal fixator in the treatment of anterior ring pelvic fractures
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OBJECTIVES: To compare the short-term results of anterior pelvic external fixation (APEF) versus anterior pelvic internal fixation (APIF) applied subcutaneously in the context of surgical treatment of pelvic ring injuries. DESIGN: A single center retrospective chart review. SETTING: A level 1 trauma center. METHODS: A consecutive series of 48 patients who underwent surgical stabilization of their anterior pelvic ring (24 utilizing APIF and 24 utilizing APEF) by 2 surgeons at a single hospital were studied. The choice to use either APEF or APIF was left up to each surgeon, the indications for use are the same. Data collected included surgical or postoperative complications including infection, implant failure, reoperation, documented surgical site pain persisting to clinical follow-up visits, and radiographic union. Measurements on inlet and outlet pelvic radiographs were made immediately postoperation and at all follow-up clinic visits to determine whether there were differences in maintaining pelvic fracture reduction. Statistical analysis was performed to evaluate significant differences between the 2 groups with regard to each of these variables. RESULTS: The APIF group was found to have a significantly lower incidence of wound complication (P < 0.05) and a lower occurrence of associated morbidity events as compared with the APEF group. In addition, the APIF group was found to have a significantly lower rate of surgical site pain persisting through all clinical follow-up intervals (P = 0.05). There was no difference between the 2 groups in terms of maintenance of pelvic reduction in the early postoperative phase or at final follow-up. No other significant differences were observed between the 2 groups. CONCLUSIONS: The present study, which was based on our initial experience with the subcutaneous anterior pelvic fixator, demonstrated encouraging clinical outcomes in terms of a lower wound complication rate and associated morbidity, and surgical site symptoms, although maintaining equivalent reduction. These findings suggest that further analysis of this technique is warranted to determine if it can be definitively recommended for general use. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
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