Background: Non-operative management (NOM) of blunt splenic or liver injuries (solid organ injury, SOI) has become the standard of care in hemodynamically stable patients. However, the incidence of long-term symptoms in these patients is currently not known. The aim of this study was to assess long-term symptoms in patients undergoing successful NOM (sNOM) for SOI.
Methods: Long-term posttraumatic outcomes including chronic abdominal pain, irregular bowel movements, and recurrent infections were assessed using a specifically designed questionnaire and analyzed by univariable analysis.
Results: Eighty out of 138 (58%) patients with SOI undergoing sNOM) responded to the questionnaire. Median (IQR) follow-up time was 48.8 (28) months. Twenty-seven (34%) patients complained of at least one of the following symptoms: 17 (53%) chronic abdominal pain, 13 (41%) irregular bowel movements, and 8 (25%) recurrent infections. One female patient reported secondary infertility. No significant association between the above-mentioned symptoms and the Injury Severity Score, amount of hemoperitoneum, or high-grade SOI was found. Patients with chronic pain were significantly younger than asymptomatic patients (32.1 ± 14.5 vs. 48.3 ± 19.4 years, p = 0.002). Irregular bowel movements were significantly more frequent in patients with severe pelvic fractures (15.4 vs. 0.0%, p = 0.025). A trend toward a higher frequency of recurrent infections was found in patients with splenic injuries (15.9 vs. 2.8%, p = 0.067).
Conclusion: A third of patients with blunt SOI undergoing sNOM reported long-term abdominal symptoms. Younger age was associated with chronic abdominal symptoms. More studies are warranted to investigate long-term outcomes immunologic sequelae in patients after sNOM for SOI.