Purpose: This study is intended to resolve the disparity and reach consensus on issues regarding the treatment of children with isolated spleen or liver injuries. To maximize patient safety and assure efficient, cost-effective utilization of resources, it was essential to determine current practice.
Methods: Data from the case records of 856 children with isolated spleen or liver injury treated at 32 pediatric surgical centers from July 1995 to June 1997 were collected. The severity of injury was classified by computed tomography (CT) grade and the data analyzed for intensive care unit (ICU) stay, length of hospital stay, transfusion requirement, need for operation, pre- and postdischarge imaging, and restriction of physical activity. Patients with grade V injuries (2.8%) were excluded leaving 832 patients for detailed review. These data and available literature were analyzed for consensus by the 1998 APSA Trauma Committee.
Results: Resource utilization increased with injury severity (see Table 2). Based on the data analysis, literature search, and consensus conference, the authors propose guidelines (see Table 3) for the safe and optimal utilization of resources in routine cases. It is important to emphasize that no recommendation falls outside the 25th percentile of current practice at participating centers.
Conclusions: Diversity of treatment, with attendant variation in resource utilization in children with isolated spleen and liver injury of comparable severity is confirmed. This analysis has stimulated a prospective outcomes study with the objective of validating the evidence-based guidelines proposed. This evidence-based study design can bring order and conformity to patient management resulting in optimal utilization of resources while maximizing patient safety.