Pelvic fracture among polytrauma decedents. Trauma-based mortality with pelvic fracture - A case series of 74 patients

M. Rittmeister, R. W. Lindsey, H. W. Kohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Pelvic fractures “PF” sustained from accidents are commonly believed to be a major cause of mortality in polytraumatized patients. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether PF are usually the primary cause or a contributing cause of mortality in these patients. A 10-year retrospective review was performed of all polytrauma patients with PF who were admitted to, and died, at a large, level-I trauma center. The pelvic injury was graded according to Schatzker and Tile into stable “type A”, partially stable “type B”, and unstable “type C”. The injury severity score “ISS”, which incorporates associated injuries and their potential impact on mortality, was calculated for all patients. For each patient, a separate subjective designation of the probable cause of death was determined. We identified 74 decedents with PF following deceleration trauma. The pelvic fractures were classified as 12 type A “16%”, 36 type B “49%”, and 26 type C “35%”. The mean ISS was extremely high, 40.6 ± 1.4 “range 18-75”, more than four times the score for simply a severe PF. The ISS was also not significantly different among the three pelvic fracture groups “P = 0.613”. The records subjectively identified PF as the precipitating cause of death in only 13% of the patients. In this study, patients who died with PF had an ISS that implicated at least one or two additional major visceral injuries. These data do not support the hypothesis that PF, regardless of its complexity, is the usual primary cause or the major precipitating event of death in the polytraumatized patient. In these patients, mortality appears to be a function of the associated injuries based on the ISS calculation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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