Failure of nonoperative management of abdominal solid organ injuries

Curr Opin Crit Care. 2006 Dec;12(6):590-4. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e328010d4ad.


Purpose of review: Nonoperative management of the spleen has been the conventional approach for dealing with blunt splenic injury in children for 25 years. Following acceptance in the field of pediatric surgery, nonoperative management of blunt injury to the liver and spleen became the template in adult trauma surgery. It has proven to be of unequivocal benefit to the majority of hemodynamically stable pediatric and adult patients who have suffered blunt liver or splenic trauma. Offsetting these gains, has been the presence of failures.

Recent findings: The recent literature has focused on factors which may impact the nonoperative management success or failure rate. These factors include initiation of guidelines, risk of overwhelming postsplenectomy infection, character of clinical judgment, role of computed tomography in detecting associated intraabdominal injuries, the presence of more than one solid organ injury, risk of associated hollow viscus injury, and the drawbacks of angioembolization.

Summary: Despite the failures of nonoperative management outlined in this review, the approach has been generally successful. Efforts at improving organ salvage rates and diminishing failures with this approach continue. Notwithstanding our enthusiasm to advance this method of patient care, we must avoid imperiling a subpopulation of patients in our attempt to improve nonoperative management success rates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / therapy*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Critical Care
  • Embolization, Therapeutic
  • Humans
  • Liver / injuries*
  • Multiple Trauma / therapy
  • Spleen / injuries*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Failure
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy*