Pelvic Ring Fractures: Utility of Clinical Examination in Patients with Impaired Consciousness or Tracheal Intubation

Waydhas, Christian; Nast-Kolb, Dieter; Ruchholtz, Steffen
April 2007
European Journal of Trauma & Emergency Surgery;Apr2007, Vol. 33 Issue 2, p14
Academic Journal
Objective: To define the diagnostic accuracy of clinical examination in patients with impaired consciousness or endotracheal intubation to detect pelvic ring fractures and to identify those with severe bleeding. Methods: Included in this prospective data collection with retrolective data analysis were a consecutive series of blunt trauma victims with either a Glasgow Coma Scale ≤ 13 or tracheal intubation. Clinical examination comprised testing for stability of the iliac wings. Results: From 784 subjects (injury severity score 23.3 ± 17.4) 93 patients (11.9%) were found to have a pelvic ring fracture. Clinical instability of the pelvic ring was found in 42 patients. There was only one false positive. Fifty-two fractures could not be identified by clinical examination, including nine fractures (17%) that required surgical fracture stabilization (sensitivity of clinical examination 44.1%). Seventeen fractures (18.3%) were associated with a blood loss larger than 20% of circulating blood volume. Sixteen of those were identified by clinical instability of the pelvic ring (sensitivity 94.1%, specificity 97.0%, positive predictive value 38.1%, negative predictive value 99.9%). Conclusions: Clinical examination for stability of the pelvis in this selected group of patients missed a significant number of pelvic ring fractures including fractures that require surgical stabilization. The finding of a clinically unstable identifies most of the patients with the pelvic ring fracture being a major source of bleeding. A stable pelvis makes pelvic ring fracture as being the source of bleeding quite unlikely.


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