>EM Reflections December 2020 – Pelvic Trauma

Big thanks to Dr. Joanna Middleton for leading discussions this month.

All cases are theoretical, but highlight important discussion points.

Authored and Edited by Dr. Mandy Peach

Case

A 46 yo male is transported to the ED via EMS after sustaining multiple injuries in a motorcycle accident. He was helmeted and driving on a community street, he estimates at 70km/hr, when he hit a patch of water and hydroplaned off the road into a ditch. He was not ambulatory on scene and a bystander called EMS. On arrival in the trauma bay his vitals are: BP 100/62 HR 115 Sat 100% on NRB, T 37.2

You begin your primary survey. His airway is patent and he is speaking full sentences. He complains primarily of chest pain with breathing and pain in his hips and legs. His helmet was removed on scene by EMS and is in good condition. He was collared as a precaution. He has obvious bruising over the anterior chest, you suspect from hitting the handlebars, but normal chest rise bilaterally with breathing. He has decreased air entry bilaterally to the bases, PoCUS reveals normal lung slide. You move on to circulation. There is no sign of arterial bleeding. FAST exam shows negative RUQ and LUQ views, however it is indeterminate as the patient was placed in a pelvic binder on scene and you can’t visualize the pelvic views.

Do you remove the pelvic binder to access for pelvic injuries?

No – pelvic ring injuries can result in massive venous hemorrhage. This patient is hypotensive and tachycardic, given the mechanism a pelvic injury is quite likely – therefore removing the binder could stop any tamponade of vessels, leading to move blood loss and an unstable patient.

If a patient is externally hemorrhaging from a source thought to be under the binder than the binder can be transiently removed to control the bleeding1 .

You decide to leave the binder in place and get portable XRs as you work through your trauma survey. XR’s confirm a pelvic ring fracture – you suspect open book that has been ‘closed’ with the binder.

This patient has a pelvic injury, other than hemorrhage what other injuries/complications is this patient at risk of 2,7,8?

Intraabdominal: 16%
Rectal injury – considered open fracture
High risk of infection/sepsis if missed

Urologic injury: <5%
More common in men (10X more likely)
Consider in anterior pelvic fractures

Gynecologic injury (if patient were female): 2-4%
Vaginal injury – considered open fracture

Neurological: 10-15%
Sacral plexus injury
The worsening instability of fracture = higher neurological risk
Cauda equina

Thoracic aortic rupture: 1.4% in pelvic fracture compared to 0.3% in blunt trauma without pelvic fracture

Imagine this patient was dropped off at the door by his friends who lifted him in, instead of being assessed by EMS – what injuries on visual exam would be concerning for pelvic injury3?

Perineal/scrotal bruising or hematomas

Blood at the urinary meatus or vaginal introitus or rectum

Malrotation of the lower limbs

Is a DRE warranted in this patient? In every trauma patient 4?

Rectal exam changes the management in 1.2% of trauma cases.

3 situations where a rectal exam is warranted

Spinal cord injury to access for sacral sparing

Pelvic fracture to determine if fracture is open

Penetrating abdominal trauma to assess for gross blood.

*Consider vaginal exam if consider genital injury as well.

What would be a contraindication to foley insertion?

Concern for genitourinary injury5
– Blood at the urethral meatus
– Penile/scrotal ecchymosis
– Gross hematuria or
– Patient unable to urinate

If possible, insert foley before application of pelvic binder if no contraindications. But in the field foley insertion does not delay the application of a pelvic binder.

If you were concerned about pelvic injury do you want to confirm with XR before placing a binder4?

No – if any concern for pelvic injury bind immediately.
Consider foregoing the pelvic exam and just place the binder on spec if mechanism of injury is concerning for pelvic injury.

If I do examine the pelvis – what is the best approach 4?

Do not place outward pressure or assess for vertical instability
Do not rock the pelvis.
Apply an inward pressure of the iliac wings once to assess for any movement.

Movement felt? Hold that inward pressure and immediately apply a pelvic binder.

How do you place a binder6?
This video reviews both the use of a commercial binder and using a bedsheet if you’re in a ‘bind’.

Remember that the binder goes over the greater trochanters (even though it is called a ‘pelvic’ binder). You can also internally rotate the legs and tape them together at the ankles to decreased anatomic bleed space4

 

Now imagine you are working a peripheral ED and the patient can’t be transported immediately due to mass casualty event at the nearest trauma center. The patient has been stabilized and will likely be in your department for hours.

Other than vitals, monitoring of symptoms and PoCUS assessment, what else should be part of your reassessment for a patient in a pelvic binder?

“Circumferential compression provided by pelvic binders should be released every 12 hours to check skin integrity and provide wound care as required1

The patient had pulmonary contusions and other superficial injuries on exam in additional to an unstable pelvic fracture. He went on to have a successful OR and recovery.

 

References & further reading:

  1. NB Trauma Program (2015). Consensus statement: Pelvic Binders. https://nbtrauma.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Consensus-Statement-Pelvic-Binders-December-2015.pdf
  2. Thomas (2016). Crackcast Ep 055: Pelvic Trauma. CanadiaEM https://canadiem.org/crackcast-e055-pelvic-trauma/
  3. Nickson (2020). Pelvic Trauma. Life in the fast lane. https://litfl.com/pelvic-trauma/
  4. Helman, A. Bosman, K. Hicks, C. Petrosoniak, A. Trauma – The First and Last 15 Minutes Part 2. Emergency Medicine Cases. January, 2019. https://emergencymedicinecases.com/trauma-first-last-15-minutes-part-2. Accessed Jan 12 2021.
  5. Lipp (2016). Genitourinary Trauma. https://canadiem.org/crackcast-e047-genitourinary-trauma/
  6. How to Apply a Pelvic Binder. CoreEM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWLBZKeWEkg&ab_channel=CoreEM
  7. Fiechtl (2020). Pelvic trauma: Initial evaluation and management. Uptodate. Retrieved Jan 12, 2020.
  8. Li, P., Zhou, D., Fu, B. et al. Management and outcome of pelvic fracture associated with vaginal injuries: a retrospective study of 25 cases. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 20, 466 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-019-2839-y

Pelvic image from: Govaert, Geertje & Siriwardhane, Mehan & Hatzifotis, Michael & Malisano, Lawrence & Schuetz, Michael. (2012). Prevention of pelvic sepsis in major open pelviperineal injury. Injury. 43. 533-6. 10.1016/j.injury.2011.12.002.

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