Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research®

, Volume 471, Issue 12, pp 4056–4064

Surgical Dislocation Technique for the Treatment of Acetabular Fractures


  • Alessandro Masse
    • Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Luigi Hospital of OrbassanoUniversity of Turin
    • Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Luigi Hospital of OrbassanoUniversity of Turin
  • Luca Rollero
    • Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Luigi Hospital of OrbassanoUniversity of Turin
  • Andrea Bersano
    • Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Luigi Hospital of OrbassanoUniversity of Turin
  • Reinhold Ganz
    • University of Bern
Multimedia Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11999-013-3228-8

Cite this article as:
Masse, A., Aprato, A., Rollero, L. et al. Clin Orthop Relat Res (2013) 471: 4056. doi:10.1007/s11999-013-3228-8



Surgical hip dislocation allows for a 360° view of the acetabulum and may facilitate a reduction in selected acetabular fractures. To our knowledge there is no description in the literature of the different techniques used to reduce acetabular fractures through this approach. The aims of this study are to describe a technique of hip surgical dislocation to treat a variety of acetabular fracture patterns and to ascertain the early results with this technique, including the quality of fracture reductions achieved, clinical results, operative time, and complications such as avascular necrosis and heterotopic ossification.

Description of Technique

The procedure involves digastric trochanteric flip osteotomy and safe dislocation of the femoral head, preserving its vessels. T-type, transverse fractures alone or associated with posterior wall could be reduced with specific clamps and reduction adequacy can be judged by direct view. Anterior column fixation could be performed with one or two screws; the posterior column could be fixed with a single posterior plate or with two plates if a transverse fracture is associated with a posterior wall fracture.


Between 2005 and 2011, we used this approach selectively to manage those types of fractures; during the period in question, we treated 312 acetabular fractures surgically, of which 31 (10%) were treated using this approach. Patient demographic, injury, and surgical variables as well as complications were recorded. Outcomes were evaluated with the Merle d’Aubigné and Postel system. Radiographic outcome was scored according to Matta’s criteria on postoperative radiographs (AP and Judet views). Minimum followup was 24 months (mean, 43 months; range, 24–87 months).


Fracture reduction was defined as anatomic in 65% cases, imperfect in 16%, and poor in 19%. Mean Merle d’Aubigné score was 15 points (out of 18, with higher scores being better). Two patients developed symptomatic femoral head avascular necrosis.


In complex cases, surgical dislocation presents several advantages; a single approach may reduce surgical time, permit direct intraarticular assessment, and facilitate screw placement closer to the articular surface. It also presents several limitations; some difficulties with bone-reduction clamp positioning, limited fixation of the anterior column, and a small risk of greater trochanter malunion.

Supplementary material

11999_2013_3228_MOESM1_ESM.doc (22 kb)
Supplementary material (DOC 22 kb)
View video

Video 1 The different techniques for the reduction of fractures through the surgical dislocation technique are shown. (WMV 339487 kb)

View video

Video 2 Reduction of a transverse fracture is commonly performed by pushing the inferior part of the pelvic brim outward and downward. (AVI 39548 kb)

Copyright information

© The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons® 2013