Does iliosacral screw removal reduce postoperative pain in unstable pelvic fracture patients? A matched prospective cohort study

Published:November 04, 2022DOI:


      • This is the first study with a control group to prospectively measure the association of iliosacral screw removal with pain and function.
      • We found no evidence that iliosacral screw removal significantly reduces pain or improves function in our population.
      • The observed natural history of patients following iliosacral screw fixation suggests improved pain and function, regardless of screw removal.



      To compare pain and function in patients with unstable posterior pelvic fractures stabilized with posterior fixation who undergo iliosacral screw removal versus those who retain their iliosacral screws.


      A prospective observational cohort study identified 59 patients who reported pain at least 4 months after iliosacral screw fixation of an unstable posterior pelvic ring fracture from 2015–2019. The primary intervention was iliosacral screw removal versus a matched iliosacral screw retention control group. Patient-reported pain was measured with the 10-point Brief Pain Inventory, and patient-reported function was measured with the Majeed Pelvic Outcome Score. Both measured within 6 months of the intervention.


      Before iliosacral screw removal, the mean pain was 4.7 (SD, 3.0) compared with 4.7 (SD, 3.0) in the matched control group. Following iliosacral screw removal, the average pain in the screw removal group was 3.7 (SD, 2.7) and 3.3 (SD, 2.5) in the matched control group. We found no evidence that iliosacral screw removal reduced pain in this population (mean difference, 0.2 points; 95% CI, -1.0 to 1.5; p = 0.71). In addition, the improvement in function after iliosacral screw removal was not statistically indistinguishable from zero (mean difference, 3.1 points; 95% CI, -4.6 to 10.9; p = 0.42).


      The results suggest that iliosacral screw removal offers no significant pelvic pain or function benefit when compared with a matched control group. Surgeons should consider these data when managing patients with pelvic pain who are candidates for iliosacral screw removal.


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