Background: To determine whether angioembolization (AE) in hemodynamically stable adult patients with blunt splenic trauma (BST) at high risk for failure of nonoperative management (NOM) (contrast blush [CB] on computed tomography, high-grade IV-V injuries, or decreasing hemoglobin) results in lower failure rates than reported.
Methods: The records of patients with BST from July 2000 to December 2010 at a Level I trauma center were retrospectively reviewed using National Trauma Registry of the American College of Surgeons. Failure of NOM (FNOM) occurred if splenic surgery was required after attempted NOM. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with FNOM.
Results: A total of 1,039 patients with BST were found. Pediatric patients (age <17 years), those who died in the emergency department, and those requiring immediate surgery for hemodynamic instability were excluded. Of the 539 (64% of all BST) hemodynamically stable patients who underwent NOM, 104 (19%) underwent AE and 435 (81%) were observed without AE (NO-AE). FNOM for the various groups were as follows: overall NOM (4%), NO-AE (4%), and AE (4%). There was no significant difference in FNOM for NO-AE versus AE for grades I to III: grade I (1% vs. 0%, p = 1), grade II (2% vs. 0%, p = 0.318), and grade III (5% vs. 0%, p = 0.562); however, a significant decrease in FNOM was noted with the addition of AE for grades IV to V: grade IV (23% vs. 3%, p = 0.04) and grade V (63% vs. 9%, p = 0.03). Statistically significant independent risk factors for FNOM were grade IV to V injuries and CB.
Conclusion: Application of strictly defined selection criteria for NOM and AE in patients with BST resulted in one of the lowest overall FNOM rates (4%). Hemodynamically stable BST patients are candidates for NOM with selective AE for high-risk patients with grade IV to V injuries, CB on initial computed tomography, and/or decreasing hemoglobin levels.
Level of evidence: III, therapeutic study.