Management of Life-Threatening Arterial Hemorrhage Following a Fragility Fracture of the Pelvis in the Anticoagulated Patient: Case Report and Review of the Literature

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Abstract

Background:

Life-threatening arterial bleeding from fragility fractures of the pelvis are very rare but associated with significant mortality, especially in anticoagulated patients.

Case Description:

We report the successful interdisciplinary management of a 78-year-old woman under anticoagulation and antiplatelet therapy who had life-threatening arterial hemorrhage from the pubic rami following a fragility fracture of the pelvis. Our management strategy included early hemorrhage control by means of selective arterial embolization followed by surgical fracture stabilization and surgical hematoma evacuation.

Literature Review:

We identified 6 cases within the English literature, all involving females older than 70 years. All patients under anticoagulation developed hemorrhagic shock, and in 2 cases selective embolization contributed to survival of the patient. However, a combined management including fracture stabilization and hematoma evacuation has not been reported, allowing an excellent clinical outcome and discharge to geriatric rehabilitation.

Clinical Relevance:

This case illustrates that elderly patients with apparently benign pelvic fragility fractures might develop severe hemorrhage due to arterial injury, especially when under dual anticoagulation, and stresses the importance of a high index of suspicion. If bleeding is suspected, detailed imaging studies are necessary to determine the source of bleeding and immediate angiographic or surgical interventions in combination with volume resuscitation and coagulation therapy should be readily available.

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