Pelvic Fracture In Children

What is a pelvic fracture?

A pelvic fracture occurs when one or more of the pelvic (hip) bones are broken. The pelvic area, or pelvis, is a ring-like structure of bones in the lower portion of the trunk (body). Three separate bones, the ilium, ischium, and pubis, make up the pelvis. These bones fuse together as your child gets older. Ligaments (connective tissues) connect the pelvis to the sacral bone, which is at the base of the spine. The pelvis protects the reproductive organs and portions of the digestive system. It also contains large nerves and blood vessels that supply the lower part of the body.

Bones of the Pelvis

What causes a pelvic fracture?

A pelvic fracture may be caused by any of the following:

  • Childbirth, especially as the baby's hip passes through a narrow birth canal.

  • Direct trauma, such as in car accidents, physical abuse, and contact sports.

  • Falling from a high place.

  • Sports activities that need quick running starts and quick stopping, such as soccer or football.

What are the signs and symptoms of a pelvic fracture?

Your child may have one or more of the following:

  • Bleeding, bruising, a cut, or swelling on his hip, abdomen (belly), or thighs.

  • Bump or lump on his hip.

  • Leg or thigh bone that turns outward.

  • Lower limbs that are not equal in length.

  • Pain, tenderness, or numbness on the affected site.

  • Problems moving, sitting, or walking.

How is a pelvic fracture diagnosed?

Your child may have one or more of the following:

  • Bone x-rays: Your child may have x-rays of his hips, thighs, abdomen, or ribs taken to check for broken bones.

  • Computerized tomography scan: This is also called a CT or CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your child's hips. It will look at your child's bones, muscles, blood vessels, and organs in the hip and abdominal area. Your child may be given dye by mouth or in an IV before the pictures are taken. The dye may help your child's caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to iodine or shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell your child's caregiver if he is allergic to shellfish, or has other allergies or medical conditions.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan: This test is also called an MRI. An MRI uses magnetic waves to take pictures of your child's hips. During an MRI, pictures are taken of his bones, abdominal or pelvic organs, or blood vessels. He will need to lie still during an MRI. Never enter the MRI room with any other metal objects. This may cause serious injury.

How is a pelvic fracture treated?

Treatment will depend on the damage and the type of fracture your child has. A mild pelvic fracture may be treated with rest alone. Medicines to decrease pain may be given so that your child can move as early as possible. He may also be given antibiotics or a tetanus shot to keep him from getting an infection. Your child may also need any of the following:

  • Aiding devices:

    • Fixators: A piece of metal equipment, called an external fixation device, may be put on your child's hips. Screws or special clamps may be used to hold the broken bones together while they heal.

    • Stabilizers: Caregivers may lay your child flat on a special backboard with his body strapped down. They may also use slings, casts, pneumatic anti-shock garments, pads, pelvic girdles, belts, or collapsible bean bags. These will prevent his broken bones from moving.

  • Irrigation and debridement: This is done when there is an open wound on the pelvis. This will clean and remove objects, dirt, or dead tissues from the fracture area.

  • Surgery: Your child may need surgery to return the bones to their normal position if the fracture is unstable. Pins, plates, and screws may be used to hold the bone together. Injury to the kidneys, genitals, abdominal organs, blood vessels, or nerves may also be treated with surgery.

  • Rehabilitation: This is a program that helps bring back your child's normal range of motion and strength. A physical therapist or an occupational therapist may exercise his arms, legs, and hands. They may also teach him new ways to do daily activities and care for himself. These may include special skills for bathing, dressing, and eating.
With proper treatment, such as medicine and rehabilitation, your child has a greater chance of having a full recovery.

How can a pelvic fracture be prevented?

  • Always secure your child in a safety seat in the car's back seat. Do not start the car until your child's seat belt is fastened. Ask your caregiver for more information about car safety seats. If your child is old enough, he should wear a seat belt when riding in a car.

  • Do not leave your baby alone on the bed, changing table, or couch. Place him in a crib or playpen if you must leave him unattended.

  • Make sure your child uses a stepladder or a safe stool when reaching for things in high places. Do not let him play or stand on chairs, counters, or other unstable objects.

  • Remove things that may cause your child to fall or stumble. Try to keep electrical cords or toys off the floor. Do not use rugs that you or your family can trip on.

Where can I find more information?

A pelvic fracture is a life-changing injury for your child and your family. Accepting that your child has a pelvic fracture may be hard. You, your child, and those close to you may feel sad, angry, depressed, or frightened. These are normal feelings. Talk to your child's caregivers, your family, or friends about your feelings. Contact the following for more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address:
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    6300 North River Road
    Rosemont , IL 60018-4262
    Phone: 1- 847 - 823-7186
    Web Address:

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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