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Am Surg. 2001 Feb;67(2):149-54.

Nonoperative management of blunt splenic and hepatic trauma in the pediatric population: significant differences between adult and pediatric surgeons?

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Department of Surgery, Morristown Memorial Hospital, New Jersey 07962, USA.


Although operative management was the preferred method of treating blunt abdominal trauma in the past, recent literature and practice recommend a nonsurgical approach to most pediatric splenic and hepatic injuries. The majority of data supporting the safety and efficacy of this nonoperative approach are derived from university trauma programs with a pediatric center where care was managed by pediatric surgeons only. To evaluate the applicability of this approach in a regional trauma center where pediatric patients are managed by pediatric and non-pediatric surgeons we reviewed the experience at a Level II community trauma center. Fifty-four children (16 years of age or less) were admitted between April 1992 and April 1998 after sustaining blunt traumatic splenic and/or hepatic injuries. There were 37 (69%) males and 17 (31%) females; the average age was 11 years (range 4 months to 16 years). Of the 54 patients 34 (63%) sustained splenic injuries, 17 (31%) sustained hepatic injuries, and three (6%) sustained both splenic and hepatic injuries. All of these injuries were diagnosed by CT scan or during laparotomy. The average Injury Severity Score was 14.9 with a range from four to 57. Of the 47 patients initially admitted for nonoperative management one patient failed nonoperative management and required operative intervention. In our study 98 per cent (46 of 47 patients) of pediatric patients were successfully managed nonoperatively. Complications of nonoperative management occurred in two patients. Both developed splenic pseudocysts after splenic injury, which required later operative repair. These data are comparable with those from university trauma programs and confirm that nonoperative management is safe in a community trauma center. The majority of children with blunt splenic and hepatic trauma can be successfully treated without surgery, in a regional trauma center treated by nonpediatric trauma surgeons, if the decision is based on careful initial evaluation, aggressive resuscitation, and close observation of their hemodynamic stability.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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