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Pelvic Fracture From a Car Accident

A direct impact on the pelvis in a car accident can cause severe fractures, leading to internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death.

doctors examining a pelvic x-ray

Due to its location and anatomy, the pelvis is one of the most vulnerable body parts in a car crash. A direct impact on the pelvis can cause severe fractures, leading to internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death. Pelvic fractures are particularly common in high-speed collisions and rollover accidents. This article will discuss some of the most common types of pelvic fractures associated with car crashes.

What is the Pelvis?

The pelvis is the bowl-shaped structure found at the hip level. It comprises several bones, including the hip bones, sacrum, and coccyx. The pelvis serves several important functions, including supporting the lower limbs and providing attachment points for the muscles of the hips and thighs. The pelvis is also a key part of the human reproductive system, as it houses the reproductive organs and provides a passage for the birth canal.

Common Types of Pelvic Fractures Associated

Lateral Crush Injury

One of the most common types of pelvic fractures associated with car crashes is the lateral crush injury. This occurs when the pelvis is crushed from the sides, typically due to the impact of the car door or another object. Lateral crush injuries can also occur if the pelvis is hit by a tire or wheel. In severe cases, a lateral crush injury can result in the complete disruption of the pelvis, which can be life-threatening. Even in less severe cases, a lateral crush injury can still cause significant pain and disability. Treatment typically involves immobilizing the pelvis with a cast or brace, followed by rehabilitation. Surgery may also be necessary in some cases.

Vertical Shear Pelvis Injury

Another common type of pelvic fracture is the vertical shear injury. This occurs when the pelvis is crushed from top to bottom, typically due to a head-on collision. The force of the impact can cause the pubic bones to separate, resulting in severe pain and internal bleeding. In some cases, the bladder or rectum may be ruptured, leading to even more serious complications. Vertical shear injuries are often fatal, and those who survive often require extensive medical care. 

Open Book Pelvis Injury

As the term “Open book” suggests, in this type of pelvic injury, the bones that make up the pelvis are separated, somewhat like the pages of a book. This usually occurs when the car’s front end crumples in a frontal collision, causing the pubic bone to fracture and separate from the hip bones. The two halves of the pelvis can then be forced apart, sometimes trapping the driver’s legs between them. Open book pelvic fractures can be very serious injuries, often resulting in severe internal bleeding and damage to the bladder or reproductive organs. In some cases, they can even be fatal.

More common pelvic fractures:

  • Avulsion fracture  
  • Acetabular fracture

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Updated: October 17, 2022