Figures 2a-d. Improvised pelvic binder methods as reported by Shackelford et al.
Recent Studies and Evidence
In a six-year retrospective study, Zingg et al found that type B1 (open book) and type C (vertically and rotationally unstable) pelvic ring fractures benefitted the most from the use of a prehospital pelvic binder. Similarly, Jarvis et al also found that despite widespread application, prehospital pelvic binders are not applied to all suspected pelvic fractures, primarily due to EMS protocol inconsistencies. Bailey et al evaluated compressive forces applied by commercial and improvised pelvic compression devices at the greater trochanters in male and female subjects with varying body fat percentages. Although these bony landmarks can be difficult to locate in obese populations, the study revealed no significant correlation between body fat percentage and applied compression force.
Considerations in the Wilderness Setting
Pelvic injury assessment starts with an in-depth look at the mechanism of injury. In the wilderness, low energy accidents, such as a trip and fall on a trail, seldom produce serious injuries. However, falls from a height, mountain bike crashes, ski & snowboard crashes, and avalanche trauma can produce devastating pelvic fractures. There are solid evidence-based guidelines for pelvic fracture management as reported by Lee and Porter, and these guidelines have been previously modified for use in wilderness environments – see Table 3. A 2020 study found that multifunctional metallic survival blankets possess remarkable tensile strength showing that they too have the potential to be used as an improvised pelvic binder.