The Role of Follow-up Radiographic Studies in Nonoperative Management of Spleen Trauma

Uecker, John; Pickett, Creighton; Dunn, Ernest
January 2001
American Surgeon;Jan2001, Vol. 67 Issue 1, p22
Academic Journal
The management of splenic injuries has evolved significantly in recent years from an operative to a nonoperative approach in stable patients with blunt abdominal trauma. The management of these patients with serial radiographic studies before hospital discharge remains controversial. We reviewed the management of 90 patients retrospectively who were admitted to our Level II trauma center with splenic injuries secondary to blunt trauma to determine the value of serial radiographic studies. Forty-seven (52%) patients underwent immediate laparotomy. Forty-three (48%) patients were managed conservatively without surgery. All nonoperative patients had an initial CT of the abdomen to evaluate their abdominal injuries. Among the 43 patients managed without surgery 31 had no follow-up radiographic studies. Twelve patients had follow-up studies before discharge. Two of these 12 patients subsequently underwent splenectomy. Both had developed hypotension, tachycardia, and a decreasing hematocrit, which prompted their repeat radiographic studies. Ten patients had no change in their clinical status and showed no significant change in the radiographic injury pattern to the spleen. One patient who was initially managed nonoperatively became hemodynamically unstable with increasing abdominal pain and subsequently underwent splenectomy without follow-up radiographic studies. The remaining 30 patients who had no follow-up studies had no significant change in their clinical abdominal examinations and had no further complications from their splenic injuries. Routine follow-up radiographic evaluations are not necessary in the nonoperative management of stable patients with splenic injuries.


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