Prospective trial of angiography and embolization for all grade III to V blunt splenic injuries: nonoperative management success rate is significantly improved

Preston R Miller, Michael C Chang, J Jason Hoth, Nathan T Mowery, Amy N Hildreth, R Shayn Martin, James H Holmes, J Wayne Meredith, Jay A Requarth
Journal of the American College of Surgeons 2014, 218 (4): 644-8

BACKGROUND: Nonoperative management (NOM) of blunt splenic injury is well accepted. Substantial failure rates in higher injury grades remain common, with one large study reporting rates of 19.6%, 33.3%, and 75% for grades III, IV, and V, respectively. Retrospective data show angiography and embolization can increase salvage rates in these severe injuries. We developed a protocol requiring referral of all blunt splenic injuries, grades III to V, without indication for immediate operation for angiography and embolization. We hypothesized that angiography and embolization of high-grade blunt splenic injury would reduce NOM failure rates in this population.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a prospective study at our Level I trauma center as part of a performance-improvement project. Demographics, injury characteristics, and outcomes were compared with historic controls. The protocol required all stable patients with grade III to V splenic injuries be referred for angiography and embolization. In historic controls, referral was based on surgeon preference.

RESULTS: From January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012, there were 168 patients with grades III to V spleen injuries admitted; NOM was undertaken in 113 (67%) patients. The protocol was followed in 97 patients, with a failure rate of 5%. Failure rate in the 16 protocol deviations was 25% (p = 0.02). Historic controls from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2009 were compared with the protocol group. One hundred and fifty-three patients with grade III to V injuries were admitted during this period, 80 (52%) patients underwent attempted NOM. Failure rate was significantly higher than for the protocol group (15%, p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS: Use of a protocol requiring angiography and embolization for all high-grade spleen injuries slated for NOM leads to a significantly decreased failure rate. We recommend angiography and embolization as an adjunct to NOM for all grade III to V splenic injuries.

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