Complications associated with embolization in the treatment of blunt splenic injury

World J Surg. 2008 Mar;32(3):476-82. doi: 10.1007/s00268-007-9322-x.


Background: Nonoperative management (NOM) of blunt splenic injuries is widely accepted, and the use of splenic artery embolization (SAE) has become a valuable adjunct to NOM. We retrospectively review and discuss the complications derived from SAE.

Materials and methods: The medical records of 152 consecutive patients with blunt splenic trauma admitted to our trauma center during a 33-month period were retrospectively reviewed. The patients were managed according to an established algorithm. The record review focused on the method of patient management (operative versus nonoperative) and use of SAE. The complications encountered following SAE are discussed in detail.

Results: Altogether, 73 patients underwent emergency surgery (58 splenectomies, 15 splenorrhaphies), and 79 patients had NOM. Of the 79 patients with NOM, 58 were successfully treated; 2 patients required splenectomy after 24 hours. The remaining 21 patients had SAE, including 18 distal and 3 proximal embolizations. Major complications occurred in 28.5% of the SAE-treated patients and included total splenic infarction, splenic atrophy, and postprocedure bleeding. Minor complications occurred in 61.9% of the patients and included fever, pleural effusion, and partial splenic infarction.

Conclusion: SAE is considered a valuable adjunct to NOM in the treatment of blunt splenic injuries; however, risks of major and minor complications do exist, and SAE should be offered with caution and followed up appropriately.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Child, Preschool
  • Embolization, Therapeutic / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spleen / blood supply
  • Spleen / diagnostic imaging
  • Spleen / injuries*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy*