Risk of Pulmonary Emboli in Patients with Pelvic Fractures

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Multiply-injured patients with pelvic fractures are recognized to have an increased risk of deep venous thrombosis. The incidence of pulmonary emboli in patients with this injury has been reported to range from 0.5 to 8.3 per cent in several recent reviews. One hundred ninety-eight patients with pelvic fractures treated at a regional trauma center over a 3-year period were reviewed to evaluate the factors associated with an increased risk of clinically evident pulmonary embolism. The mean age SD was 44 24 years; 51 per cent were male, and mean Injury Severity Score (ISS) was 19 15. Eighteen patients (9%) died. Mortality was significantly correlated with ISS (P < 0.05), male sex, and type and severity of fracture but not with age, mechanism of injury, or operative fixation. Four patients (2.0%) had pulmonary emboli. The occurrence of clinically apparent pulmonary emboli correlated only with ISS (ISS < 15 = 0% vs ISS > 15 = 4%, P < 0.05). During the same time period, there were eight (0.2%) pulmonary emboli in 3337 trauma patients without pelvic fracture. This difference is highly significant (P < 0.0001). Pelvic fracture is indicative of severe injury and denotes a population at higher risk for pulmonary emboli than other trauma patients. Intensive screening and prophylactic measures to prevent deep venous thrombosis and subsequent pulmonary emboli should be intensively directed at this population.

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