Management of pediatric blunt splenic injury at a rural trauma center

Julio J. Bird, Nirav Y. Patel, Michelle A. Mathiason, Thomas J. Schroeppel, Cecile J. D'Huyvetter, Thomas H. Cogbill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Patterns for nonoperative management of pediatric blunt splenic injuries (BSIs) vary significantly within and between institutions. The indications for repeated imaging, duration of activity restrictions, as well as the impact of volume and type of trauma center (pediatric vs. adult) on outcomes remain unclear. METHODS: A retrospective review of all patients younger than 16 years with BSI managed at a rural American College of Surgeons-verified adult Level II trauma center from January 1995 to December 2008 was completed. Patients were identified from the trauma registry by DRG International Classification of Diseases-9th Rev. (865.00-865.09) and management codes (41.5, 41.43, and 41.95). Variables reviewed included demographics, mechanism of injury, Injury Severity Score, grade of splenic injury, degree of hemoperitoneum, presence of arterial phase contrast blush on computed tomography at admission, admission and nadir hemoglobin level, blood transfused, length of stay, disposition, outpatient clinical and radiographic follow-up, interval of return to unrestricted activity, and clinical outcomes. RESULTS: During the 13-year study period, 38 children with BSI were identified. Thirty-seven (97%) were successfully managed nonoperatively. Median grade of splenic injury was 3 (range, 1-5); 73% had moderate-to-large hemoperitoneum. Median Injury Severity Score was 10 (range, 4-34). Three patients with isolated contrast blush on initial computed tomography were successfully managed nonoperatively with no angiographic intervention. One patient failed nonoperative management and underwent successful splenorrhaphy. All patients were discharged home. Thirty-day mortality was zero. Median follow-up duration was 5.5 years, with no late complications identified. Of the patients successfully managed nonoperatively, 92% had their follow-up at our institution; 74% underwent subsequent imaging, and none resulted in intervention or alteration of management plan. CONCLUSION: Pediatric BSI can be managed in adult trauma centers with success rates of nonoperative management comparable to dedicated children's hospitals. Routine follow-up imaging is not necessary. Overall splenic injury salvage rate in our experience was 100%. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic/epidemiologic study, level IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)919-922
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Blunt splenic injury
  • nonoperative management
  • pediatric trauma


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