Hepatic angioembolization in trauma patients: indications and complications

J Trauma. 2009 Oct;67(4):769-73. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181b5ce7f.


Background: Hepatic angiography (HA) and hepatic angioembolization (HAE) are increasingly used to diagnose and treat intrahepatic arterial injuries. This study was performed to review indications, outcomes, and complications of HA/HAE in blunt trauma patients who underwent HAE as adjunct management of hepatic injury.

Methods: A retrospective review of consecutive cases of HA/HAE at a Level I trauma center during an 8-year period. Data include demographics, physiologic condition, liver injury grade, HA/HAE indications, outcomes, morbidity, and mortality.

Results: Seventy-nine patients underwent diagnostic HA; 31 (39%) had subsequent HAE. Fifty-eight hemodynamically stable patients had computerized axial tomographic (CT) scan followed by HA. HA was performed for contrast blush on CT in 30 (52%) of 58 patients, high-grade liver injury in 4 (7%), subsequent hemodynamic instability in 15 (27%), and angiography planned for other purpose in 9 (17%). HA confirmed arterial injury and led to HAE in 50% of patients with contrast blush on CT or high-grade liver injury. HA was negative when performed for hemodynamic instability or for other primary purposes. Twenty-one hemodynamically unstable patients underwent emergent laparotomy followed by postoperative HA with 11 (50%) requiring HAE. Overall mortality in HAE group was 16%, and liver-related morbidity was 29% usually presenting as gallbladder or liver necrosis.

Conclusion: HA/HAE should be used when CT scan suggests associated intrahepatic arterial or high-grade injury in the management of hepatic injuries and should also be considered after laparotomy and perihepatic packing to control inaccessible intrahepatic hemorrhage. Mortality related to HAE is uncommon, but morbidity occurs frequently.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Contraindications
  • Embolization, Therapeutic* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gallbladder / blood supply
  • Hemodynamics
  • Hepatic Artery / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / etiology
  • Liver / injuries*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / physiopathology
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy*
  • Young Adult