Indications and performance of pelvic radiography in patients with blunt trauma

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7 Scopus citations


Objectives: The objectives of this study are to validate a set of clinical variables to identify patients with pelvic fractures and to determine the sensitivity of anteroposterior (AP) pelvic radiographs in patients with pelvic fractures. Methods: We conducted a prospective observational cohort study of adults (>18 years) with blunt torso trauma evaluated with abdominal/pelvic computed tomography. Physicians providing care in the emergency department documented history and physical examination findings after initial evaluation. High-risk variables included any of the following: hypotension (systolic blood pressure <90 mm Hg), Glasgow Coma Scale score less than 14, pelvic bone tenderness, or instability. Pelvic fractures were present if the orthopedic faculty documented a fracture to the pubis, ilium, ischium, or sacrum. Results: We enrolled 4737 patients, including 289 (6.1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.4%-6.8%) with pelvic fractures. Of the 289 patients, 256 (88.6%; 95% CI, 84.3%-92.0%) had at least one of the high-risk variables identified. Initial plain AP radiographs identified 234 (81.0%; 95% CI, 76.0%-85.3%) of 289 patients with pelvic fractures. The high-risk variables identified all 87 patients (100%; 95% CI, 96.6%-100%) undergoing surgery, whereas plain AP pelvic radiography identified a fracture in 83 patients (95.4%; 95% CI, 88.6%-98.7%) undergoing surgery. Conclusion: Previously identified high-risk variables for pelvic fracture identify most but not all patients with pelvic fractures. However, these high-risk variables identify all patients undergoing surgery and may be implemented as screening criteria for pelvic radiography. Anteroposterior pelvic radiographs fail to demonstrate a fracture in a substantial number of patients with pelvic fracture including patients who undergo surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1133
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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