To report results of sacral decompression and lumbopelvic fixation in neurologically impaired patients with highly displaced, comminuted sacral fracture-dislocations resulting in spino-pelvic dissociation.

Retrospective clinical study.

Regional level one trauma center.

Nineteen patients with highly displaced, comminuted, irreducible Roy-Camille type 2-4 sacral fractures with spino-pelvic instability patterns and cauda equina deficits were identified over a 6-year period, 18 of which met the 12-month minimum follow-up criterion.

All were treated with open reduction, sacral decompression, and lumbopelvic fixation. Radiographic and clinical results were evaluated. Neurological outcome was measured by Gibbons' criteria.

Radiographic evaluation with computed tomography scan and antero-posterior, lateral, and oblique views of the pelvis to assess alignment, hardware position and decompression. Clinical evaluation emphasizing neurological outcome as described by Gibbons' criteria.

Sacral fractures healed in all 18 patients without loss of reduction. Average sacral kyphosis improved from 43 to 21 degrees. Fifteen patients (83%) had full or partial recovery of bowel and bladder deficits, although only 10 patients (56%) had improved Gibbons scores. Average Gibbons score improved from 4 to 2.8 at 31-month average follow-up (range: 12 to 57 mo). Wound infection (16%) was the most common complication. Complete recovery of cauda equina function was more likely in patients with continuity of all sacral roots (86% vs. 0%, P = 0.00037) and incomplete deficits (100% vs. 20%, P = 0.024). Although not statistically significant, recovery of bowel and bladder function specifically was more closely associated with absence of any sacral root discontinuity (86% vs. 36%, P = 0.066) than on completeness of the injury (100% vs. 47%, P = 0.21).

Lumbopelvic fixation provided reliable fracture stability and allowed consistent fracture union without loss of alignment. Neurological outcome was, in part, influenced by completeness of injury and presence of sacral root disruption.