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Diagnosis of Acetabular Fractures

How is an acetabular fracture diagnosed?

Emergency Stabilization

Patients with fractures caused by high-energy trauma will almost always go or be brought to an urgent care center or emergency room for initial treatment because of the severity of their symptoms.

If the fracture is due to high-energy trauma, there may also be injuries to the head, chest, abdomen, or legs. If there is significant blood loss, it may lead to shock—a life-threatening condition that can result in organ failure.

Physical Examination

Your doctor will perform a thorough examination of your pelvis, hips, and legs. He or she will also check to see if you can move your ankles and toes and feel sensation on the bottom of your feet. In some cases, nerves may be injured at the same time that the acetabulum is fractured.

You doctor will also carefully examine the rest of your body to determine if you have received any other injuries.

Imaging Studies

X-rays

These studies provide images of dense structures, such as bones. X-rays of acetabular fractures are taken from a number of different angles to show the pattern of the fracture and how out of place the bones are (displacement).

Computed tomography (CT) scans

Because of the complex anatomy of the pelvis, a CT scan is commonly ordered for acetabular fractures. The scan will provide your doctor with a more detailed, cross-sectional image of your hip and can be helpful in preoperative planning.