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Acetabular Fracture Surgery 

Acetabular fracture surgery realigns and repairs fractures of the acetabulum, or the hip socket. 

The hip joint consists of a ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) kept together and stabilized by ligaments. Injuring the acetabulum is difficult, but not impossible—and any kind of fracture in that area (called an acetabular fracture) should be treated immediately, as it can lead to heavy bleeding or further injury to nearby muscles, nerves and other soft tissues. Surgery realigns the fractured, fragmented acetabulum bone and essentially reconstructs the hip joint. 

Conditions Treated

Acetabular fractures typically occur when some kind of impact drives the femur into the socket. This can be as intense as a car accident or, if a patient has a medical condition that causes weakening of the bones, as mild as a fall. The fracture may not be the patient’s only problem, as such impacts can also damage the cartilage within the joint and surrounding soft tissues. 

Procedure Details 

The goal of acetabular fracture surgery is to rebuild the hip joint by aligning the fractured bone and its fragments to their proper positions. The bones are then stabilized with metal plates and screws. In some cases, patients may need to have their leg immobilized for some time to prevent further injury and achieve the stable condition needed for this operation. 

What to Expect 

Patients who undergo acetabular fracture surgery will not be able to walk unassisted for several months, though physical therapy will require them to move and restrengthen the joint to the best of their ability. Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, may also be recommended to avoid slower healing and further health complications. 

As with any surgery, this procedure does carry some risks: 

  • Avascular necrosis (death of bone cells) 
  • Blood clots 
  • Heterotopic ossification (bone growing where it shouldn’t) 
  • Infection 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Posttraumatic arthritis 

Effectiveness 

While the speed of the acetabulum’s healing process varies with each patient, it typically takes anywhere from nine months to a year to heal completely. Patients may be able to put their full weight on the affected side of their body within four months, though they may still need assistance to walk for some time. Not all patients are able to return to all of the normal activities they enjoyed before injury. 

Tampa General Hospital’s Orthopedic Institute features cutting-edge technology to achieve world-class results for patients undergoing acetabular fracture surgery and other orthopedic procedures.