Having pelvic fractures is one of the worst things that can happen to an elderly person in which it can possibly cause death. If that statement shook you or somehow caught your attention, read on. You might be wondering, how can my poor old senile granny or grandpa be fractured? The odds are low, you might believe, but it’s actually more common than you think.
The pelvis is a sturdy ring of bones that protect the abdomino-pelvic cavity. These include our bladder and our internal sex organs, to name a few. In addition to having a protective role, it also has a supportive structural function. The pelvis, you see, connects our spine and the bones of our lower extremities too. Bones themselves, including the pelvis of course, also contain blood vessels so they are definitely counted as vital organs too.
Being a bone or group of bones itself, the pelvis is also prone to breakage or fractures. But how, you ask? The most common cause of fractures in the elderly is a fall which we’ve discussed here in AT10 before. However, the most significant fractures involve high-energy forces such as a motor vehicle crashes, cycling accidents, or a fall from significant height. Here, we focus on fractures that occur in old age, falls, and why it’s so important to prevent them.
Pelvic fractures itself may easily be treated if identified early. In addition, younger patients who sustain fractures are also able to tolerate indicated surgical procedures. In the elderly, whose general body makeup is more “fragile”, treatment may not be so simple. Severe blood loss is the main threat to life and it has a mortality of more than 40% if not treated aggressively. In addition, these other complications may occur too:
- Gastrointestinal organ damage
- Venous Thromboembolism
- Genitourinary injuries
- Neurologic Injuries
One in every three adults ages 65 and older experience falls and fall related injuries each year. In addition, two million people within that age bracket are treated in emergency departments for injuries they sustained from falls. The risk of falling increases with each decade of life. The older you get, the more likely you are to fall.
Prevention is Key
We are emphasizing the role of preventing falls here and we will do the same thing over and over again. Some simple measures may be taken to protect your elderly relatives. It will save the trouble of expensive medical care and it may be able to save lives as well. If you want to get more involved or to know more, take time to read our Preventing Falls article.