An Occult Acetabular Fracture Preceding a Femoral Neck Fracture

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abstractFull article available online at article describes the case of a 69-year-old patient with an occult acetabular fracture complicated by an ipsilateral femoral neck fracture occurring within 2 months. The acetabular fracture remained undiagnosed at examination due to insufficient clinical and radiographic data interpretation. The patient was assured of early mobilization that led to a fall and subsequent hip fracture. We focus on the potential reasons for the nondiagnosis of the acetabular fracture. Acetabular fractures in the elderly may occur after low-energy injuries. The lack of history of violent injury may lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Plain anteroposterior (AP) pelvis radiographs alone may prove an insufficient tool, especially in the hands of inexperienced personnel. As is characteristic, a retrospective review of the AP pelvis radiograph obtained after the first fall in our case revealed the undisplaced fracture of the anterior column that was missed initially. Combined fractures of the hip and the acetabulum are rarely described in the literature and are usually addressed by total hip arthroplasty (THA) alone. Similar fracture patterns that develop in 2 stages (2 injuries), as the 1 presented herein, are even more rare. The uniqueness of this combined fracture required a unique surgical treatment. The senior surgeon (P.V.G.) addressed the acetabular fracture separately to graft the anterior column fracture and facilitate union, as it was already 8 weeks old and the second fall had generated a further gap between the fragments. Stable fixation was felt appropriate prior to the THA. Thus, a double surgical approach was used. Six weeks postoperatively, the patient was able to perform full weight-bearing mobilization without an antalgic gait pattern. At 6-month follow-up, radiographs showed the metalwork to be in place with no displacement, and the fracture had progressed to union.

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