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Preliminary trauma radiographs misrepresent pubic diastasis injuries

, : Preliminary trauma radiographs misrepresent pubic diastasis injuries. Orthopedics 38(3): E229-E233

The goal of this study was to evaluate the role of portable primary trauma survey radiographs in the evaluation and management of anteroposterior (AP) compression pelvic injuries. A retrospective analysis was conducted at a level I academic trauma center. Twenty-seven adults with AP compressive class pelvic ring injuries who received both portable pelvic radiographs and pelvic computed tomography (CT) imaging in an unbound pelvic state were included. Three orthopedic surgeons performed independent measurements of diastasis on portable pelvic radiographs and coronal pelvic CT reconstructions. Measurement techniques were standardized among observers and were repeated after 8 weeks to assess intraobserver reliability. Nonoperative vs operative treatments were correlated with the initial magnitude of pelvic injury on CT and portable radiographic images. Independent measurements of diastasis on both radiographs and CT scans showed excellent intraobserver reliability (average correlation coefficient, 0.986) and interobserver reliability (average correlation coefficient, 0.979). Compared with diastasis measurements on CT scans, portable pelvic radiographs overestimated diastasis by an average of 49%, or 12.6 mm (P<.0001; 95% confidence interval, 9.6-15.6). Portable pelvic films were less precise than standard pelvic radiographs in measuring the size of femoral head controls (R(2)=0.919 vs 0.759; P=.004). In 12 of the 27 patients evaluated, radiographic indications for operative pelvic fixation were met by portable radiographs but not CT scans, and 11 of these patients ultimately underwent operative fixation. Portable AP pelvic radiographs may distort and exaggerate pelvic bony injuries, especially those involving anterior pelvic structures. Surgeons should use caution when making management decisions based on preliminary portable pelvic radiographs.


PMID: 25760512

DOI: 10.3928/01477447-20150305-62

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