Acute Complications of Patients With Pelvic Fractures After Pelvic Angiographic Embolization

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Abstract

Background

Hemodynamically unstable patients with a pelvic fracture and arterial pelvic bleeding frequently are treated with pelvic angiographic embolization (PAE). PAE is reported to be a safe and effective method of controlling hemorrhage. However, the loss of blood supply and subsequent ischemia from embolization may lead to adverse consequences.

Objectives/purposes

We sought to determine (1) the frequency and types of complications observed after PAE; (2) the mortality after PAE; and (3) the clinical factors associated with complications and mortality after PAE.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective case series descriptive study at a Level I trauma center. Using our institution’s trauma registry, we isolated patients with pelvic fractures treated with PAE admitted between June 1999 and December 2007. Complications attributed to PAE occurring in the initial hospital stay were recorded. We identified 98 patients with pelvic fractures treated by PAE with an average hospital stay of 25.3 days.

Results

The complication rate was 11% and included six patients with gluteal muscle necrosis (6%), five with surgical wound breakdown (5%), four deep infections (4%), one superficial infection, two patients with of impotence (2%), and one with bladder necrosis. The mortality rate in the PAE group reached 20%. Bilateral embolization was performed in 100% of the patients with complications. Nonselective embolization was performed in 81% of patients with complications. All of the patients with gluteal necrosis had bilateral nonselective embolization.

Conclusions

Bilateral or nonselective PAE is associated with significant complications during the initial hospital stay. The value of PAE should be weighed against its possible adverse consequences. Selective unilateral arterial embolization should be considered whenever possible.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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