Immediate external fixation has been proposed as a means of stabilizing severe pelvic fractures to reduce the chance of organ failure and death. Sixty-six patients were admitted from January 1980 through December 1983 with double fractures of the pelvic ring that involved the posterior elements. Twentysix patients (39 percent) underwent immediate external fixation for instability, and 40 patients (61 percent) with stable fractures were treated with bed rest. The two groups were similar in age, injury severity score, and degree of shock. The mortality rate of the two groups was the same (12 percent), as was the incidence of organ failure. The mean transfusion requirement in the unstable group was greater, but not significantly. Our results were better than those reported in recent studies in which immediate rigid fixation was not used. We conclude that the patient with multiple trauma without unstable pelvic fracture should undergo immediate external fixation to decrease morbidity and mortality rates and limit soft tissue damage.
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