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What is an Acetabular Fracture?

An acetabular fracture is a break in the acetabulum (ball-and-socket portion) of the hip joint. It usually occurs during high-energy injuries.

Causes of Acetabular Fractures

Causes of acetabular fractures include:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Osteoporosis
  • Falls from heights
  • Weak bones

Symptoms of Acetabular Fracture

Symptoms of an acetabular fracture include:

  • Pain
  • Hematoma
  • Weakness due to nerve damage
  • Swelling
  • Tingling sensation
  • Bruising

Diagnosis of Acetabular Fracture

Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and a physical examination of the hip will be performed. Your doctor may recommend the following diagnostic tests:

  • X-ray: This study uses high-energy electromagnetic energy beams that produce images of the bones.
  • CT scan: Special x-rays are used to produce images of any damage to the hip.
  • MRI Scan: An imaging study that uses a large magnetic field and radio waves to detect any damage to the soft tissue. 
  • Bone scan: A nuclear imaging study that helps your doctor to detect any hidden stress fractures or bone disorders.

Treatment for Acetabular Fracture

Treatment for acetabular fracture includes:

Non-Surgical Method

  • Medications: Your doctor will recommend over-the-counter pain medications to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical therapy: Your doctor will recommend special exercises and other techniques to strengthen the bones and muscles.
  • Positioning aids: You will be advised to use a leg positioning device such as a knee immobilizer or abduction pillow to help support the restricted leg.

Surgical Method

If non-surgical methods fail to improve the symptoms, surgery will be recommended based on the severity of the fracture. Surgical treatments can include:

  • Total Hip Replacement: The damaged bone and cartilage are removed from the hip joint and replaced with artificial components.
  • Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF): The fracture site is exposed, and internal fixation is performed with wires, screws, and nails that are attached to a metal plate placed inside the body.
  • Traction: This method involves using a force to gently pull on the injured area to guide the fractured bone ends to their correction position. There are two methods of traction: 
    • Skin traction: Skin traction involves the attachment of traction tapes to the skin of the hip segment near the fracture. 
    • Skeletal traction: In skeletal traction, a pin is inserted through the bone and attached to ropes. Weights are applied, and you will be placed in a traction apparatus.