Introduction: Severe bleeding from liver injury is one of the major causes of mortality in patients with abdominal trauma. The study was undertaken to assess factors that influence outcome following liver trauma.
Patients and methods: This is a prospective study of patients with liver injury treated in one surgical ward at King Edward VIII Hospital over a 7-year period (from 1998 to 2004). Data collected included demographics, intra-operative findings, operative management and outcome.
Results: Of a total of 478 patients with abdominal trauma, 105 (22%) were found to have liver injuries, of whom only 7 were female. Their mean age was 27.81+/-10.33 years. Injuries were due to firearms (70), stabs (26) and blunt trauma (9). Nineteen patients presented with shock (systolic BP<or=90 mmHg). All patients underwent laparotomy. Delay before surgery was <or=6h in 58 patients and >6h in 47 patients. Forty patients required ICU management (38%) and the mean ICU stay was 6.55+/-5.65 days. Twenty patients (19%) needed a re-laparotomy for various reasons. The complication rate was 37% and the mortality rate was 20% (23% for firearms, 44% for blunt trauma and 4% for stabs). The mortality rate in patients with shock was 58% compared to 12% in those who were not shocked (p<0.0001). Mortality rate was 2, 23 and 63% for Injury Severity Score (ISS)<or=9, 10-20 and >20, respectively (group 1 versus group 2 p=0.015; group 1 versus group 3 p<0.0001 and group 2 versus group 3 p=0.001). Mortality rates for delay <or=6h and delay >6h were 28 and 9%, respectively (p=0.008). Associated injuries led to a higher mortality (3% versus 27%; p=0.006). Hospital stay was 11.27+/-12.09 days.
Conclusions: Liver injuries occurred in 22% of abdominal injuries. Injury mechanism, delay before surgery, shock on admission, grade of injury, associated injury and ISS are significantly associated with outcome.