Background: Splenic artery aneurysms (SAA) are rare clinical entities that carry the risk of rupture and fatal hemorrhage. They are being detected with increased frequency and often cause a clinical dilemma, particularly when small lesions occur in compromised patients. This paper relates our experience in the management of SAA over a 14-year period.
Patients and methods: We analyzed data from the medical charts and radiological images of all patients diagnosed with SAA at Emory University Hospital from December 1979 to January 1993.
Results: A search of medical records discovered 23 patients who experienced 44 SAAs during the time period under study. Twelve patients had multiple SAAs, most of them in the distal third of the artery. Seven had SAAs > 2 cm in diameter. Modalities used to diagnose SAA included Doppler ultrasound in 9 patients, computerized tomography in 10, and arteriography in 21. Sixteen patients had portal hypertension. Splenomegaly was present in 13 of those with portal hypertension. Aneurysm excision and splenectomy were carried out emergently on 2 patients and electively on 1. Aneurysm ligation was performed on 3 patients. One patient underwent embolization of the lesion. Sixteen asymptomatic patients whose aneurysms were < 2 cm in diameter were treated expectantly for a mean period of 3 years. One patient who received active treatment died. There were no documented deaths attributable to SAA among patients treated by observation. Six patients in this group died of unrelated causes. The longest follow-up was 7 years.
Conclusions: We support current criteria that call for active treatment of symptomatic or enlarging SAAs, with particular emphasis on treating women anticipating pregnancy and patients undergoing orthotopic liver transplantations. For most other cases, expectant treatment is acceptable.