Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research: November 2014 - Volume 472 - Issue 11 - p 3375–3382 doi: 10.1007/s11999-014-3467-3 Symposium: Fractures of the Acetabulum FREE

Managing Acetabular Fractures in the Elderly With Fixation and Primary Arthroplasty: Aiming for Early Weightbearing

Rickman, Mark, MD, MBChB, FRCS1; Young, James, MBBS, MRCS(Eng)1; Trompeter, Alex, MBBS, BSc, FRCS(Tr&Orth)1,a; Pearce, Rachel, RGN, BSc1; Hamilton, Mark, FRCA2

Background Osteoporotic acetabular fractures in the elderly are becoming more common. Regardless of treatment, most patients are managed with a period of protected weightbearing, even if a THA has been performed. We have tried to treat these patients analogously to geriatric femoral neck fractures in a way that allows immediate full weightbearing.


Questions/purposes We determined return to mobility, length of hospital stay (LOS), radiographic outcomes, and complications in a series of elderly osteoporotic patients treated for acetabular fractures with early fracture fixation and simultaneous THA, allowing full weightbearing immediately postoperatively.


Methods Since 2009, one surgeon (MR) used a consistent approach for fracture fixation and THA with immediate weightbearing in all patients older than 65 years with acetabular fractures who were fit for surgery and whose injuries were deemed osteoporotic fractures (low-energy mechanisms) meeting particular radiographic criteria (significant marginal impaction or femoral head damage). Twenty-four patients met these criteria and were reviewed at a mean of 24 months (range, 8-38 months). Mean age was 77 years (range, 63-90 years), and eight patients were women. The surgical technique included plate stabilization of both acetabular columns plus simultaneous THA using a tantalum socket and a cemented femoral stem. Clinical and note reviews were conducted to ascertain return to mobility, LOS, and postoperative complications. Component migration and fracture healing were assessed on plain radiographs.


Results All patients mobilized with full weightbearing by Day 7 postoperatively. Only one patient remained dependent on a frame to mobilize at discharge. At 6 weeks, two patients already required no walking aids. At 6 months, patients were using a single stick at home at most, and all patients had managed stairs. Mean LOS was 18 days (range, 10-36 days). Radiographically, no component migration was seen in any patient. Seventeen of 24 fractures (71%) healed radiographically by 12 weeks, and all healed by 6 months. We recorded one superficial wound infection, one symptomatic deep venous thrombosis, and one in-hospital death from myocardial infarction.


Conclusions Selected older patients with acetabular fractures may be managed using immediate weightbearing after fracture fixation and THA. However, this surgery is complex and requires a mixed skill set.


Level of Evidence Level IV, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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