A Less Invasive Anterior Intrapelvic Approach for the Treatment of Acetabular Fractures and Pelvic Ring Injuries

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The ilioinguinal approach by Letournel has fundamentally contributed to the successful treatment of acetabular fractures. Since most of the present complications arise from soft tissue structures in the inguinal part, it would be desirable to avoid the surgical dissection of this region. We have therefore developed a less invasive anterior intrapelvic approach consisting of a suprapubic access combined with the lateral window of the ilioinguinal approach.


Between January 2000 and October 2002, 14 patients with acetabular fractures and 6 patients with pelvic ring injuries were consecutively operated using our technique. The patients were prospectively followed up clinically and by standard X-rays for 1 year.


In 19 patients the technique was successful and only one patient was converted to an ilioinguinal approach due to difficulties in reducing the fracture. Our access allowed good visibility but reduction manoeuvres were sometimes difficult and the development of a new reduction forceps became necessary. Anatomical and satisfactory reduction was achieved in 13 acetabular fractures and 4 pelvic ring injuries. One cutaneous femoris neurapraxy and one superficial infection occurred related to the approach and both resolved with conservative treatment. Clinical outcome at one year was good to excellent in 17 patients (modified Merle d’Aubigné/Postel score). In 3 patients the result was fair to poor for reasons unrelated to the approach.


Our approach permits visualisation of the entire anterior column and pelvic ring without the necessity to dissect the inguinal neurovascular structures. Our preliminary results demonstrate that safe reduction and stable fixation of selected acetabular- and pelvic ring fractures are possible.

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