Objective: To determine the incidence of superior gluteal artery injury following fracture of the acetabulum and to determine whether the combination of a superior gluteal artery injury and the use of an extended iliofemoral approach to the acetabulum creates abductor muscle necrosis. Design: Prospective protocol, consecutive cases. Setting: A consecutive series from the referral practice of the senior author plus seven cases from the practices of two other authors. Patients: Two hundred twenty-seven patients with fractures of the acetabulum were treated operatively between November 1992 and January 1995. Forty-one were treated with the use of the extended iliofemoral approach. Preoperative angiograms were not performed for any of the patients. All fractures involved the posterior column, and all but two fractures had displacement of the greater sciatic notch. The average displacement of the notch was 2.5 centimeters (range 6 to 60 millimeters). Intervention: All patients were treated with open reduction and internal fixation via the extended iliofemoral approach. Intraoperative Doppler examination of the superior gluteal artery was performed before and after reduction and fixation of the posterior column. Main Outcome Measure: Wound complications, abductor manual muscle testing, hip range of motion. Results: Pulsatile flow was confirmed in forty of forty-one patients. All patients were followed for a minimum of six months with an average follow-up of 1.4 years. At most recent follow-up, no patients had evidence of complete loss of abductor function. Sixty-three percent of patients had achieved Grade 4 of 5 motor strength, and 25 percent of them had achieved normal motor strength. Conclusions: No instances of superior gluteal artery laceration and only one instance of superior gluteal artery thrombosis were encountered in these forty-one patients despite significant fracture displacement involving the sciatic notch. The incidence of superior gluteal artery injury was significantly less than would be expected from previous studies. Massive abductor necrosis resulting from superior gluteal artery injury combined with an extended approach has been described primarily in animal and cadaver studies. Although arteriograms are useful in the control of hemodynamic instability, we cannot support the recommendation of preoperative angiographic study of all patients undergoing acetabular fracture surgery via an extended approach. In one case, an extended iliofemoral approach was tolerated in a patient with absent superior gluteal artery flow.
- Superior gluteal artery