Is a fracture of the transverse process of L5 a predictor of pelvic fracture instability?

I. Starks, A. Frost, P. Wall, J. Lim
2011 Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery  
In the management of a pelvic fracture prompt recognition of an unstable fracture pattern is important in reducing mortality and morbidity. It is believed that a fracture of the transverse process of L5 is a predictor of pelvic fracture instability. However, there is little evidence in the literature to support this view. The aim of this study was to determine whether a fracture of the transverse process of L5 is a reliable predictor of pelvic fracture instability. We reviewed our hospital
more » ... a database and identified 80 patients who sustained a pelvic fracture between 2006 and 2010. There were 32 women and 48 men with a mean age of 40 years (10 to 96). Most patients were injured in a road traffic accident or as a result of a fall from a height. A total of 41 patients (51%) had associated injuries. The pelvic fractures were categorised according to the Burgess and Young classification. There were 45 stable and 35 unstable fractures. An associated fracture of the transverse process of L5 was present in 17 patients; 14 (40%) of whom had an unstable fracture pattern. The odds ratio for an unstable fracture of the pelvis in the presence of a fracture of the transverse process of L5 was 9.3 and the relative risk was 2.5. A fracture of the transverse process of L5 in the presence of a pelvic fracture is associated with an increased risk of instability of the pelvic fracture. Its presence should alert the attending staff to this possibility.
doi:10.1302/0301-620x.93b7.26772 pmid:21705572 fatcat:daw5zl4575dz5aomanxgl77dru