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Radiology. 2007 Apr;243(1):88-95. Epub 2007 Feb 9.

Blunt splenic trauma: delayed-phase CT for differentiation of active hemorrhage from contained vascular injury in patients.

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Department of Radiology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To retrospectively evaluate delayed-phase computed tomography (CT) in the differentiation of active splenic hemorrhage requiring emergent treatment from contained vascular injuries (pseudoaneurysms or arteriovenous fistulas) that can be treated electively or managed conservatively.


The institutional review board approved this HIPAA-compliant retrospective study; the informed consent requirement was waived. Forty-seven patients with blunt splenic injury diagnosed at CT after blunt abdominal trauma were evaluated. Abdominal and pelvic dual-phase CT was performed; images were obtained 60-70 seconds and 5 minutes after contrast material injection. Scans were reviewed in consensus by two radiologists. Splenic injuries were graded with the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Splenic Injury Scale. Patients with intrasplenic hyperattenuating foci on portal venous phase images were classified as having active splenic hemorrhage (group 1) or a contained vascular injury (group 2) on the basis of delayed-phase imaging findings. Findings suggestive of active hemorrhage included areas that remained hyperattenuating or increased in size on delayed-phase images. The clinical outcome of these patients was determined by reviewing their medical records. Relationships between several factors were tested with the Fisher exact test, including (a) the presence or absence of hyperattenuating foci and management and (b) the presence of contained vascular injury or active extravasation and management.


Portal venous phase CT revealed a focal high-attenuation parenchymal contrast material collection in 19 patients: nine patients were classified as group 1 and 10 were classified as group 2. All patients in group 1 underwent emergent splenectomy, and all patients in group 2 were initially treated without surgery. Significant differences in management were noted on the basis of whether hyperattenuating foci were seen on portal venous phase images (P < .001) and whether hyperattenuating foci seen at portal venous phase imaging were further characterized as active splenic hemorrhage or a contained vascular injury at delayed-phase CT (P < .001).


In blunt splenic injury, delayed-phase CT helps differentiate patients with active splenic hemorrhage from those with contained vascular injuries.

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