Research Article| Volume 42, ISSUE 10, P1008-1011, October 2011

Haemorrhage control in pelvic fractures—A survey of surgical capabilities



      In the emergency management of patients with pelvic fractures, there is ongoing debate about the roles of angiography and open pelvic packing. It is agreed that some form of haemorrhage control is required for patients who are haemo-dynamically unstable despite resuscitation. We set out to determine whether on-call general and orthopaedic surgeons would feel able to perform emergency surgical procedures for these patients and whether vascular radiology was available to them.


      Surveys were sent to all 221 general and orthopaedic surgeons in Wales. Questions included: sub-speciality interest, geographical region, whether there is a pelvic binder in their hospital, availability of interventional radiology, and whether surgeons would perform a range of procedures to control haemorrhage in the emergency setting.


      There were 141 responses to the survey, giving a 64% response rate. Only 18% reported that their unit had a formal rota for interventional radiology out of hours. 16% did not know. 96% of orthopaedic surgeons would perform external fixation, although only 49% would use a C-clamp. 90% of general surgeons would be able to pack the pelvis from within the abdominal compartment and 84% would be prepared to cross-clamp the aorta if the situation required. Despite being widely recommended in the literature as a method of haemorrhage control, our survey revealed only 45% would perform extra(pre)-peritoneal packing of the pelvis (58% of general surgeons; 34% of orthopaedic surgeons) and only 12% had received formal training in this procedure.


      With appropriately targeted training it is likely that the care of patients with pelvic fractures can be significantly improved.


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