Risk factors associated with pelvic fractures sustained in motor vehicle collisions involving newer vehicles

Deborah M. Stein, James V. O'Connor, Joseph A. Kufera, Shiu M. Ho, Patricia C. Dischinger, Carol E. Copeland, Thomas M. Scalea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Despite advances in automotive safety, pelvic fractures caused by motor vehicle collisions remain a significant cause of mortality, morbidity, and functional disability. This study was designed to evaluate epidemiologic and biomechanic risk factors associated with pelvic fractures resulting from motor vehicle collisions. We utilized the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN) database to identify these risk factors in newer vehicles. METHODS: Data were prospectively collected at the ten CIREN centers from 1996 to 2005. Specific data were then abstracted on all patients, biomechanic crash characteristics, and injuries sustained. Patients involved in a frontal or near-side lateral impact with pelvic fractures were compared with those without. Univariate analysis was performed using a χ analysis. Logistic regression was used to identify significant risk factors in a multivariate analysis to control for confounding associations. RESULTS: Of the 1,851 patients studied, 511 (27.6%) had a pelvic fracture. The overall mortality was 17%. Injury specific factors associated with pelvic fracture were higher Injury Severity Score (ISS) and fatality of the patient. Biomechanic factors associated with the risk of pelvic fracture included; no airbag deployment (p < 0.001), smaller vehicle (p = 0.05), and lateral deformation location (p < 0.001). When stratified by vehicle deformation location, logistic regression models revealed statically significant variables in a frontal impact which included; higher body mass index, higher ISS, large patient vehicle, no seatbelt use, and higher ΔV. For near-side lateral impacts, multivariate analysis revealed statistically significant variables of lower body mass index, higher ISS, female sex, small vehicle size, and higher ΔV. CONCLUSIONS: Even in newer vehicles with federally mandated safety features, pelvic fractures remain a common injury. Pelvic fractures may serve as a marker of crash severity and specific crash characteristics are associated with pelvic fractures. Lateral crashes are significantly more likely to result in a pelvic fracture and, therefore, prevention of pelvic fractures should focus on improving occupant safety in near-side lateral impacts. Recognition of other associations should lead researchers to further investigate causative factors that will ultimately result in improved vehicle design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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