Management of Hemorrhage in Severe Pelvic Injuries

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Abstract

Background:

Major pelvic trauma results in high mortality. No standard technique to control pelvic hemorrhage has been identified.

Methods:

In this retrospective study, the clinical course of hemodynamically instable trauma patients with pelvic fractures treated according to an institutional algorithm focusing on basic radiologic diagnostics, external fixation, and early angiographic embolization was evaluated. Study variables included demographics, data on the type and extent of injury, achievement of time from admission to hemorrhage control, complications of angiography, red blood cell needs, and outcome. Standard statistical tests were used.

Results:

Of 1,476 pelvic fracture patients, 45 fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Two patients presented with severe intra-abdominal hemorrhage and underwent emergency laparotomy with pelvic packing. Forty-two patients underwent angiographic embolization before (n = 24) or after (n = 18) a computed tomography scan. Applying the clinical algorithm, pelvic hemorrhage was controlled in all but one patient who died before any intervention could be initiated (97.8%). The hourly need for red blood cell transfusions decreased during 24 hours after angiographic embolization when compared with before the procedure (3.7 ± 3.5 vs. 0.1 ± 0.1 U/h; p < 0.001). In patients undergoing angiographic embolization, the mean time to hemorrhage control was 163 minutes ± 83 minutes. Hospital mortality was 26.2%. Two patients required reembolization because of hemorrhage from other than the primary bleeding site. One patient developed gluteal necrosis, and nine subsequently required renal replacement therapy.

Conclusion:

Application of a clinical algorithm focusing on basic radiologic diagnostics, external fixation, and early angiographic embolization was effective and safe to rapidly control hemorrhage in hemodynamically instable trauma patients with pelvic fractures.

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