Selective management of blunt splenic trauma

Peter Mucha, Richard C. Daly, Michael B. Farnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


During a recent 8-year period, 235 patients with documented blunt splenic trauma were treated. After exclusion of 39 patients with early deaths (19 dead on arrival, nine died in emergency room, and 11 died in operating room), the 196 remaining patients were treated in accordance with an evolving selective management program. Definitive management included splenectomy in 117 patients (59.7%), repair in 32 (16.3%), and nonoperative treatment in 47 (24%). A spectrum of blunt splenic trauma, as manifested by the degree of associated injuries (Injury Severity Scores), hemodynamic status, and blood transfusion requirements, was identified and permitted application of a rational selective management program that proved safe and effective for all age groups. Comparative analysis of the three methods of treatment demonstrated differences that were more a reflection of the overall magnitude of total bodily injury sustained rather than the specific manner in which any injured spleen was managed. Retrospective analysis of 19 nonoperative management failures enabled establishment of the following selection criteria for nonoperative management: 1) absolute hemodynamic stability; 2) minimal or lack of peritoneal findings; and 3) maximal transfusion requirement of 2 units for the splenic injury. With operative management, splenorrhaphy is preferred, but it was often precluded by associated life-threatening injuries or by technical limitations. Of 42 attempted splenic repairs, ten (24%) were abandoned intraoperatively. There were no late failures of repair. In many cases of blunt splenic trauma, splenectomy still remains the most appropriate course of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-979
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Surgery


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