Anatomic mechanisms for splenic injury during colorectal surgery

Amit Merchea, Eric J. Dozois, Jeffrey K. Wang, David W. Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Intraoperative iatrogenic splenic injury during colorectal surgery is rare but may cause significant morbidity. We aimed to describe the anatomic mechanisms of iatrogenic injury to the spleen during colonic surgery. All adult surgical patients who sustained a splenic injury during colectomy at our institution from 1992 to 2007 were retrospectively identified. The operative and pathologic reports were reviewed, and anatomic details of the injuries were collected. Results are reported as a proportion or median, with range reported in brackets. Of 13,897 colectomies, 71 splenic injuries among 58 patients were identified. Splenic flexure colonic mobilization occurred in 53 (91%) of these patients. The median number of tears was 1 (1-3). The average length of tear was 4.59 cm. The distribution of injury location on the spleen was 24 (34%) inferior, 14 (20%) hilar, 3 (4%) posterior, 2 (3%) lateral, and 1 (1%) superior. Three (4%) patients suffered from splenic rupture. The location of 24 (34%) injuries was not described. Capsular tears were the cause of splenic injury in 55 (95%) patients. Intraoperative splenic injury ultimately resulted in splenectomy in 44 (76%) patients. Splenic injury was a delayed finding requiring reoperation in 4 (7%) patients. The primary mechanism of intraoperative splenic injury during colectomy is capsular tears and lacerations secondary to misplaced traction and tension on the spleen during colonic mobilization. Techniques to lessen these forces may decrease the number of injuries and subsequent splenectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-217
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2012


  • colectomy
  • laparoscopic colectomy
  • spleen
  • splenectomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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