Executive Editor: Peter Trafton

Authors: Rahul Banerjee, Peter Brink, Matej Cimerman, Tim Pohlemann, Matevz Tomazevic

Pelvic ring - Bilateral complete disruption of posterior arch

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1 Introduction top


Before proceeding with definitive repairs, the patient must be fully resuscitated, fully evaluated, and fit for anesthesia and surgery by a prepared team.

These are complex and unusual injuries. Anterior pelvic arch injuries are typically present in at least one location. Anatomic reduction and stable fixation of all disruptions is the appropriate definitive treatment.

Emergency care for pelvic ring injuries should be available and preplanned at every trauma hospital. Patients with complex pelvic ring injuries may need to be referred to a specialized center. Definitive care of complex pelvic ring injuries may be centralized so that patient referral may need to be considered.

Lumbo-sacral nerve root injury

Before undertaking definitive treatment of pelvic ring injuries, it is essential to know the functional status of the patient's lumbosacral nerve roots. A careful and detailed examination is necessary, to assess perineal sensation, voluntary anal sphincter contraction, and bulbo-cavernosus reflex. Cystometrography may be helpful to assess bladder neuromotor function.

Neurologic abnormalities should be correlated with anatomic site of injury:

  • If a lumbo-sacral nerve deficit is present in extra sacral injuries, further investigation and possible treatment must be considered.
  • If a sacral nerve deficit is present with a sacral fracture, the nerves should be decompressed with fracture reduction and/or sacral laminectomy.


Lumbo-sacral dissociation

It is important to recognize that bilateral sacral alar fractures may represent lumbo-sacral dissociation, as described by Roy-Camille and others. These may have “U”, “H”, or “λ” patterns, including a transverse component through the central sacrum, which may be displaced and flexed. This compromises the sacral canal and is often associated with nerve root injury. Decompression of the injured nerve roots, with posterior spino-pelvic fixation is advised for these unusual and complex injuries. The prognosis for neurologic recovery is guarded.

2 Preoperative planning top

An explicit, written pre-operative plan is strongly encouraged. The following provides an outline of recommended steps.

Assess and consider:

  • Whole patient (physiologic status and other injuries)
  • Pelvic region & organ systems (local details of pelvic region including soft tissues and related organ system injuries)
  • X-rays and CT scans (reviewed in detail for patients individual anatomy, each injury, and overall pelvic configuration)


Identify and list each individual pelvic ring injury

For each injury, determine displacement, stability, and a strategy for reduction and fixation (relevant techniques are outlined and discussed below)


Overview of relevant techniques

The relevant reduction and fixation procedures are organized according to anatomical structures in the lower part of the diagnosis page. Consider this as a "menu" for selecting your procedures and approaches.


List, in order, each step of your planned procedure

Finally review the step-by-step list to:

  • Confirm plan
  • List equipment and implants
  • Consider potential problems and solutions
  • Share the plan with other members of the operative team – including nursing staff, radiographic technician, and anesthesia staff.


  • Minimizing the amount of additional soft tissue damage and operative blood loss is important. Efficient use of surgical time is required to avoid excessively long procedures.
  • Sufficient blood replacement must be available. Intraoperative blood salvage should be considered.

3 Surgical strategy top

Each injury will have its own particular features that must be considered in planning and carrying out definitive treatment.

It is impossible to describe all possibilities here. However, the following general guidelines offer some suggestions:

  • Usually, the most displaced fracture or dislocation is addressed first.
  • Reduction of a widely displaced anterior arch disruption may aid indirect reduction of posterior injuries.
  • Monitor the overall pelvic shape, as well as the way individual injuries appear to fit together. Full size inlet and outlet x-rays of the whole pelvis may be necessary. It is important to restore the overall symmetry and configuration of the pelvis.
  • Be sure to identify and correct posterior and proximal displacement of both hemipelves.
  • Consider provisional internal or external fixation to progressively stabilize the pelvis during reconstruction. This should allow for adjustments as necessary to reduce additional sites of displacement.
  • It may be helpful to identify a posterior key fragment (large fragment which can be reduced to the axial skeleton). Addressing this first may restore one stable hemipelvis to provide a basis for reconstructing the pelvic ring.
  • Both posterior arch disruptions should be fixed directly to ensure adequate stability for load-bearing from spine to either lower extremity.
  • In U- or H-shaped sacral fractures the upper central sacral segment is the base of the spine. Ilio sacral screws may be successful for stabilizing U- or H-shaped fractures if they are undisplaced. However, optimal stability is obtained with lumb pelvic fixation, connecting lower lumbar pedicle screws to iliac screws.

4 Note on positioning: Combined supine and prone positioning top

If both anterior and posterior approaches will be required, the surgeon must choose the best order for the procedures (with change of patient positioning from  prone to  supine or vice versa). This information must be communicated to the other members of the surgical and anesthesia teams to ensure appropriate planning and preparations.

Typically, the posterior approach (prone position) is performed first.


At the completion of the posterior procedure, a postoperative dressing is applied.


The patient is turned supine (“log-rolled”) onto an adjacent stretcher.


The patient is transferred back onto the operating table.


The anterior operative area is prepared and draped as necessary.

If an anterior procedure to be performed first, followed by a posterior approach, the sequence is reversed and the patient turned in a similar fashion.

v1.0 2015-12-10