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Management of Acetabular Fractures in the Elderly Patient

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HSS Journal


Operative management of displaced acetabular fractures yields better results than nonoperative management. Over the past decade, surgical approaches to the acetabulum and the surgical tactic for repair of common fracture patterns have been advanced. Excellent outcomes after repair of these injuries can be achieved. In some cases, as in the elderly, or in those cases in which there is significant destruction of the articular cartilage, primary total hip arthroplasty may provide the best solution. Removal of the femoral head allows for excellent exposure of the acetabulum, making it possible to stabilize most fractures without the need for extensile or intrapelvic approaches. The surgical technique that has been successfully used calls for gaining primary stability of the acetabular columns by open reduction and internal fixation and then using the acetabular component to replace the articular surface. The columns need not be anatomically reduced. Multiholed acetabular shells can be used as internal fixation devices by placing screws into the columns enhancing the stability of the repair. In older individuals with severe osteoporosis, a typical fracture pattern results in intrapelvic dislocation of the femoral head with a blowout fracture of the anterior column and medial wall. Reinforcement rings with cemented acetabular fixation can be used in these cases. The femoral head can be used as bulk bone graft to replace and reinforce the reconstruction. Techniques common to revision of failed acetabular components are helpful in this setting. The results of reconstruction of severe acetabular fractures with total hip replacement have been reported to be similar to those achieved for reconstruction of osteoarthritis.

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Correspondence to Charles N. Cornell MD.

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Cornell, C.N. Management of Acetabular Fractures in the Elderly Patient. HSS Jrnl 1, 25–30 (2005).

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