Associated head injury should not prevent nonoperative management of spleen or liver injury in children

Martin S. Keller, Kennith H. Sartorelli, Dennis W. Vane

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45 Scopus citations


The appropriate management of children with liver or spleen injuries and associated head injury after blunt trauma remains controversial. To evaluate the success rates for nonoperative management and the impact this approach has on both abdominal and head injury outcome, children recorded in the National Pediatric Trauma Registry were reviewed. From January 1, 1994 to April 1, 1995, 107 children (aged <19) were identified with liver, spleen, and associated head injury from blunt trauma. Forty-five (42%) children had combined head and spleen injury, 51 (48%) had head and liver injury, and 11 (10%) had head, liver, and spleen injury. Only 18 (17%) required laparotomy (head and spleen injury, 9 (8%); head and liver injury, 5 (5%); and head, liver, and spleen injury, 4 (4%)). Overall, there were no differences in Glasgow Coma Scale scores for children requiring laparotomy compared with those managed conservatively (13 vs. 14, p > 0.05). For all groups, the mean Injury Severity Score was significantly higher for children requiring laparotomy (19 vs. 31, p < 0.05). However, when comparison of the groups was stratified for type of injury and severity, the transfusion requirements, mortality, and abdominal and neurologic morbidity were all improved in children managed nonoperatively. Contrary to previous guidelines in the literature for selection of patients for nonoperative management of blunt solid organ abdominal injury, the association of altered mental status from head injury with liver and spleen injuries should not impact the decision for observational management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-475
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1996


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