What is an acetabular fracture?

An acetabular fracture occurs once the hip joint socket is damaged. This type of fracture is less common that hip fractures where the top part of the thigh bone is impaired, not the socket. Remember that it is uncommon for both sides of the hip joint to be damaged during an injury. In most cases, a fracture occurs to either the ball or the socket but not both.

The acetabulum is the socket of the ball-and-socket hip joint. The upper part of the thigh bone shapes the ball while the socket is a component of the pelvic bone. A number of bones fuse together to form the round pelvis. In the back part of the pelvis, the coccyx and sacrum are also fused together. On either side of the pelvis, there is one hip socket. It is important to note that this acetabulum is round-shaped and covered by a smooth cartilage within. This cartilage forms the smooth surface of the hip joint.

An acetabular fracture either occurs during high-impact trauma or as an insufficiency fracture. Among young individuals, it always involves significant trauma and commonly other linked injuries once a fracture occurs. Among the elderly, the fractures occur due to weak bones from osteoporosis.

Acetabular fracture

Since the injury involves the hip joint, regardless of the treatment, there is increased risk for the individual to later on develop arthritis of the hip joint.

Treatment for an acetabular fracture

There are various factors to be considered to conclude on the suitable treatment for an acetabular fracture. Since the injury involves the hip joint, regardless of the treatment, there is increased risk for the individual to later on develop arthritis of the hip joint. The reason why hip arthritis develops is that the hip socket is covered with smooth cartilage that has been damaged at the time of the fracture.

Careful restoration of the normal alignment of the hip joint will slow down the progression of arthritis. Understandably, the treatment depends on the degree of cartilage shift and stability of the joint. Take note that the hip joint must be stable while the cartilage is smoothly contoured.

The non-surgical treatment is essentially reserved for cases that are not out of alignment or individuals who are not healthy enough to endure a major surgical procedure. Oftentimes, non-surgical treatment is opted with the objective to perform hip replacement if arthritis develops within the joint.

Whether or not surgical intervention is performed, the individual should avoid placing weight on the affected extremity usually for several months after the injury. The individual is usually allowed to place the foot on the ground but without any force.

What are the possible complications?

It is sad to note that the long-term prognosis of an acetabular fracture has various complications. During the early phase, individuals who end up with fracture often have associated injuries including abdominal injuries, head injuries, urological issues and other musculoskeletal injuries. These individuals face a high risk for developing blood clots in the pelvis and legs. Those who undergo surgery are at risk for infection, wound healing issues and injuries to the nerves and blood vessels.


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