Background: Atraumatic splenic rupture (ASR) is an ill defined clinicopathological entity.
Methods: The aim was to characterize aetiological and risk factors for ASR-related mortality in order to aid disease classification and treatment. A systematic literature review (1980-2008) was undertaken and logistic regression analysis employed.
Results: Some 632 publications reporting 845 patients were identified. The spleen was normal in 7.0 per cent (atraumatic-idiopathic rupture). One, two or three aetiological factors were found in 84.1, 8.2 and 0.7 per cent respectively (atraumatic-pathological rupture). Six major aetiological groups were defined: neoplastic (30.3 per cent), infectious (27.3 per cent), inflammatory, non-infectious (20.0 per cent), drug- and treatment-related (9.2 per cent) and mechanical (6.8 per cent) disorders, and normal spleen (6.4 per cent). Treatment comprised total splenectomy (84.1 per cent), organ-preserving surgery (1.2 per cent) or conservative measures (14.7 per cent). The ASR-related mortality rate was 12.2 per cent. Splenomegaly (P = 0.040), age above 40 years (P = 0.007) and neoplastic disorders (P = 0.008) were associated with increased ASR-related mortality on multivariable analysis.
Conclusion: The condition can be classified simply into atraumatic-idiopathic (7.0 per cent) and atraumatic-pathological (93.0 per cent) splenic rupture. Splenomegaly, advanced age and neoplastic disorders are associated with increased ASR-related mortality.