Non-operative management of blunt splenic injury: is it really so extensively feasible? a critical appraisal of a single-center experience
Introduction: the spleen is one of the most commonly injured organ following blunt abdominal trauma. Splenic injuries may occur in isolation or in association with other intra-and extra-abdominal injury. Nonoperative management of blunt injury to the spleen has become routine in children. In adult most minor splenic injuries are readily treated nonoperatively but controversy exists regarding the role of nonoperative management for higher grade injuries above all in multi-trauma patients. The aim of this study is the assessment of splenic trauma treatment, with particular attention to conservative treatment, its limits, its efficiency, and its safety in multi-trauma patient or in a severe trauma patient.
Methods: the present research focused on a retrospective review of patients with splenic injury. The research was performed by analyzing data of the trauma registry of St. Andrea University Hospital in Rome. The St. Andrea University Hospital trauma registry includes 1859. The variables taken into account were spleen injury and general injuries, age, sex, cause and dynamic of trauma, hemoglobin, hematocrit, white blood cells count, INR, number and time blood transfusion, hemodynamic stability, type of treatment provided, hospitalization period, morbidity and mortality. Assessment of splenic injuries was evaluated according to Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS).
Results: the analysis among the general population of spleen trauma patients identified 68 patients with a splenic injury representing the 41.2% of all abdomen injury. The Average age was of 37.01 ± 17.18 years. The Average ISS value was of 22.88 ± 12.85; mediana of 24.50 (range 4-66). The average Spleen AIS value was of 3.13 ± 0.88; mediana 3.00 (range 2-5). The overall mortality ratio was of 19.1% (13 patients). The average ISS value in patients who died was of 41.92 ± 12.48, whereas in patients who survided was of 23.33 ± 10.15. The difference was considered to be statistically significant (p <0.001). The relashionship between the ISS and AIS values in patients who died was considered directly proportional but not statistically significant (Pearson test AIS/ISS = 0.132, p = n.s.). The initial management was a conservative treatment in 27 patients (39.7%) of them 4 patients (15%) failed, in the other 41 cases urgent splenectomies were performed. The average spleen AIS in all the patients who underwent splenectomy was 3.61 ± 0.63 whereas in the patients who were not treated surgically was 2.42 ± 0.69. The difference was deemed statistically significant (p <0.001).
Conclusion: splenic injury, as reported in our statistic as well as in literature, is the most common injury in closed abdominal trauma. Nonoperative management of blunt injury to the spleen in adults has been applied with increasing frequency. However, the criteria for nonoperative management are controversial. The preference of a conservative treatment must be based on the hemodynamic stability indices as well as on the spleen lesion severity and on the general trauma severity. The conservative treatment represent a feasible and safe therapeutic alternative even in case of severe lesions in politrauma patients, but the choice of the treatment form requires an assessment for each singular case.