The Floating Hip: Complications and Outcomes


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Abstract

Background:To perform a descriptive study of the course, treatment decisions, complications, and outcome of patients suffering simultaneous ipsilateral fractures of the femur and pelvis.Methods:Medical records and radiographs of 57 patients were reviewed retrospectively.Results:The average follow-up was 28 months. Fifteen patients (26%) had an acetabular fracture, 17 (30%) had a pelvic ring fracture, and 25 (44%) had both fractures concomitant with the ipsilateral femoral fracture. Eighty percent of acetabular fractures and 55% of pelvic ring fractures were treated surgically. Femur fractures underwent operation in 94% of cases. When multiple operative settings were used, the femur fracture was always fixed at the first operation. Complications included deep venous thrombosis (DVT) (12%), heterotopic ossification (HO) (34%), femoral head avascular necrosis (AVN) (2%), osteoarthritis (OA) (16%), and traumatic sciatic nerve palsy (33%). At least partial nerve palsy resolution occurred in 53% of patients.Conclusions:Ipsilateral injuries to the femur and the pelvis or acetabulum (“floating hip”) are severe injuries usually caused by high-energy trauma. The acetabulum and pelvic ring are more commonly fractured together than either alone. The femur fracture will most commonly be addressed first, as in 65% of our cases in which both components were addressed at the same setting, and 100% of cases in which they were addressed in separate settings. Delays of surgery were common because of severity of systemic trauma. Surgeons should be aware of the high incidence of sciatic nerve palsy as well as treatment options and potential complications associated with this devastating combination of injuries.

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