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Transverse + posterior wall fractures of the acetabulum: epidemiology, operative management and long-term results.

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Klinik für Unfallchirurgie, Orthopädie und Handchirurgie, Klinikum der Stadt Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany.


PURPOUSE OF THE STUDY: Associated transverse and posterior wall fractures account for approximately 20% of all acetabular fractures. To asses the risk of these concommitant bone injuries on early joint failure despite a high rate of postoperative congruency.


The analysis of 104 surgically treated patients with associated transverse and posterior wall fractures showed that more than half of these patients had associated injuries. The mean age was 35 years, and > 75% of these patients were male. A high energy trauma was the trauma mechanism in 94.2%. The mean ISS was 26.3 points. The majority of patients showed a juxta- or transtectal fracture line. The mean articular fracture displacement was 13.5 mm. 87.5% of the patients showed a femoral head dislocation. An acetabular roof comminution was present in 16.3%. 20.2% of patients received a fracture related preoperative nerve injury to the sciatic nerve.


Osteosynthesis was performed 9.9 days after trauma. The Kocher-Langenbeck approach was used in > 90% for stabilization with a combination of plate and screw fixation in 71.1%. The mean operative time was 190 minutes with a blood loss of 855 ml. Postoperatively the hip joint was congruent in 90.3% with anatomical or near-anatomical joint reconstruction in > 90%. Iatrogenic nerve injury occurred in 12 patients (8.9%).


67 patients (67.7%) could be followed after a mean of 42.7 months. The average subjective Visual Analog Scale pain score was 42.7. Mild or no pain was seen in 58.2%. The mean Merle d'Aubigné score was 15.4 with 56.7% of patients having a functionally perfect or good result. 52.2% had no post-traumatic osteoarthritic changes of their hip joint. A joint failure was diagnosed in 32.8% of the patients. Analyzing only patients with anatomically reconstructed hip joints, patients showed comparable results with 61.3% having no or mild pain and 59.2% a good or excellent functional result. Posttraumatic arthrotic changes occur in only 26.5% of these patients. A joint failure was present in 32.7%. In this group, a joint failure was significantly more likely to be present with an additional acetabular comminution zone.


Associated transverse and posterior wall fractures have a significant risk of early joint failure despite a high rate of postoperative congruency.

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