Background: Non-operative management (NOM) of blunt splenic injuries is nowadays considered the standard treatment. The present study identified selection criteria for primary operative management (OM) and planned NOM.
Methods: All adult patients with blunt splenic injuries treated at Berne University Hospital, Switzerland, between 2000 and 2008 were reviewed.
Results: There were 206 patients (146 men) with a mean(s.d.) age of 38.2(19.1) years and an Injury Severity Score of 30.9(11.6). The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma classification of the splenic injury was grade 1 in 43 patients (20.9 per cent), grade 2 in 52 (25.2 per cent), grade 3 in 60 (29.1 per cent), grade 4 in 42 (20.4 per cent) and grade 5 in nine (4.4 per cent). Forty-seven patients (22.8 per cent) required immediate surgery. Transfusion of at least 5 units of red cells (odds ratio (OR) 13.72, 95 per cent confidence interval 5.08 to 37.01), Glasgow Coma Scale score below 11 (OR 9.88, 1.77 to 55.16) and age 55 years or more (OR 3.29, 1.07 to 10.08) were associated with primary OM. The rate of primary OM decreased from 33.3 to 11.9 per cent after the introduction of transcatheter arterial embolization in 2005. Overall, 159 patients (77.2 per cent) qualified for NOM, which was successful in 143 (89.9 per cent). The splenic salvage rate was 69.4 per cent. In multivariable analysis age at least 40 years was the only factor independently related to failure of NOM (OR 13.58, 2.76 to 66.71).
Conclusion: NOM of blunt splenic injuries has a low failure rate. Advanced age is independently associated with an increased failure rate.
Copyright © 2010 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.