Blunt splenic injury in adults: clinical and CT criteria for management, with emphasis on active extravasation

Radiology. 1998 Jan;206(1):137-42. doi: 10.1148/radiology.206.1.9423663.


Purpose: To evaluate and determine the relevance of clinical and computed tomographic (CT) criteria, particularly extravasation, for prediction of clinical outcome in adults with splenic injuries.

Materials and methods: Retrospective blinded review was performed of the records of 270 patients with splenic injury during a 5-year period. Of these, 120 died or underwent surgery without CT and 150 underwent dynamic bolus-enhanced CT. Fifty of the latter underwent immediate surgery and 100 initially were treated without surgery, according to CT and clinical criteria: morphologic grade of injury, amount of hemoperitoneum, active extravasation, and injury severity score (a clinical measure of multiorgan trauma).

Results: Of the clinical criteria, injury severity score had the best correlation with outcome. Of the CT criteria, active extravasation correlated best with the need for splenic surgery. Of 96 patients selected for nonsurgical treatment and who did not have active extravasation, 83 recovered without surgery or other intervention. Nonsurgical therapy failed in 15 of the 100 patients. The splenic salvage rate was 59.3% overall and was 92% among the 100 patients with initial nonsurgical management.

Conclusion: Standard clinical criteria allow triage of patients into immediate surgery or initial nonsurgical groups. CT criteria, especially absence of active extravasation, can help predict successful nonsurgical management of splenic injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Injuries / complications
  • Abdominal Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Abdominal Injuries / therapy
  • Adult
  • Contrast Media
  • Extravasation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Materials*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spleen / injuries*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / complications
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy


  • Contrast Media