What Are Some Complications of Pelvic Fracture in the Elderly?

Elderly patients with a pelvic fracture are likely to experience serious injury to the soft tissue and surrounding muscle, as well as veins, nerves and arteries, according to David L. Helfet, M.D. It is also possible for damage to occur to surrounding organs, including the intestines and bladder.

Significant bleeding, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism may occur in the veins of the pelvis, lower legs and thighs, states Dr. Helfet. Pneumonia often occurs as a result of being bedridden and unable to breathe and expand the lungs normally. Other complications from inactivity include constipation, muscle problems and skin sores from lying in one position for long periods of time. Nutritional concerns may be a factor as patients require more protein and calories during the healing process. Additionally, many patients suffer from psychological distress and shock as a result of the incident.

A patient may require one or more surgical procedures to repair a pelvic fracture, explains Dr. Helfet. During surgery the surgeon must realign the bones properly, or the patient may experience irregularities in the joints, causing them to wear down over time. When this occurs the patient is at higher risk for arthritis of the joint, loss of motion and functionality as well as increased pain.

Pelvic fractures increase the risk of mortality in the elderly, according to an article in the journal Surgery and appearing on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website. Research indicates that elderly patients are more likely to have a lateral compression fracture pattern as well as a longer length of stay in a hospital and death despite resuscitation efforts.