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High Comorbidity in Cats with Traumatic Pelvic Fractures

Jason Bleedorn, DVM, DACVS, University of Wisconsin–Madison


|October 2020

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In the literature

Hammer M, Gutbrod A, Sigrist NE, et al. Predictors of comorbidities and mortality in cats with pelvic fractures. Vet Surg. 2020;49(2):281-290.


Pelvic fractures are common in cats and frequently associated with concurrent damage to other body regions.

This study retrospectively reviewed comorbidities and mortality in 280 cats with pelvic fractures over a 13-year period. Pelvic fractures were classified as unilateral or bilateral and by involvement of weight-bearing elements; concurrent injuries were grouped by body region.

Concurrent injury of the thorax (49.6%), abdomen (57.5%), neurologic system (43.6%), and soft tissue (48.6%) was most frequent, with 50% of cats having injuries to ≥3 regions. Abdominal injury was more common with motor vehicle trauma, whereas thoracic injury was more common with high-rise falls. The highest mortality rate (ie, 26.2%) was identified in cats with neurologic injury. The number of body regions affected was correlated with mortality, with each additional body region increasing the odds for mortality by 1.85.

Surgical treatment was performed in 58.6% of cases and was more frequently performed when the injury involved the weight-bearing axis. Surgery and euthanasia were more common in cats that had more severe or comminuted fractures. Conservative management was pursued in 24.6% of cats; these patients often had non-weight–bearing or noncomminuted fractures. Cats with bilateral disruption of the weight-bearing axis had twice the mortality rate of cats with unilateral fractures. Overall mortality of cats with pelvic fractures was 20%.


Key pearls to put into practice:


Each additional body region affected in cats with pelvic fractures increases the risk for death.


Damage to the weight-bearing axis occurs in >90% of pelvic fractures, and bilateral involvement is negatively associated with outcome.



Complete orthopedic and neurologic examination, as well as imaging of the thoracic and abdominal cavity, are imperative to identifying comorbidities with pelvic trauma.


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