Dr. Mullis recalls how acetabular fractures are treated.
Well, it depends on how bad the fracture is. I would say the great majority of acetabulum fractures we treat with surgery and the reason is, if the fracture is moved just a millimeter more, then it significantly puts the patient at risk for arthritis, what we call post-traumatic arthritis,
So there’s different forms of arthritis. Many people may have heard of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory type of arthritis. I think many patients are familiar with osteoarthritis, which just means arthritis happens and we are still not really sure why. But post-traumatic arthritis means there’s been an injury to the cartilage which is the smooth part over the bone that helps the bones glide over each other, and we try and limit the amount of friction, or rough surface, that that cartilage sees.
And so if you have a fracture that’s shifted, than that cartilage no longer has a smooth surface to run over. It’s more like going up and down steps and so it can quickly develop an early arthritis.
About Dr. Mullis, M.D.:
Dr. Brian Mullis, M.D., is the Chief of Orthopaedic Trauma Service and Assistant Professor of Clinical Orthopaedics in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Indiana University School of Medicine. He has a special clinical interest in orthopaedic trauma and post-traumatic complications with a focus on pelvis and acetabulum fractures, peri-articular fractures of both upper and lower extremity, bone healing, nonunions, malunions, deformity and post-traumatic infections.