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Surg Endosc. 1998 Jun;12(6):870-5.

Splenic artery embolization before laparoscopic splenectomy. An update.

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Department of Surgery, The Wellesley Central Hospital, University of Toronto, 160 Wellesley Street East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 1J3.



This study assessed preoperative splenic artery embolization before laparoscopic splenectomy.


Preoperative splenic artery embolization was used in 26 of 54 patients (48%) undergoing laparoscopic splenectomy. Between 1992 and 1994, this procedure was used in all patients with spleens shorter than 20 cm (group I), except the first two (18/20). An anterior surgical approach was used. After 1994 (group II), embolization was not used for these patients (0/26), and a lateral surgical approach was used. Throughout the study period, all patients with spleens longer than 20 cm had embolization (8/8).


Five complications occurred, three related to the use of small-particle embolic material (microspheres, gelatin foam powder). In group I, the conversion rate was lower than that of most current series, largely because of embolization. In group II, similar results were obtained because of experience and a better surgical approach (i.e., lateral).


Preoperative splenic artery embolization is not necessary for spleens shorter than 20 cm. Increased experience and mostly the lateral surgical approach have permitted a shorter operation and a low conversion rate (4%) similar to the rate achieved with embolization and the anterior approach in the initial stages of the study. Embolization is used for 20- to 30-cm spleens. The conversion rate is higher (17%), and blood replacement is required frequently (83%). Despite embolization, laparoscopic splenectomy for spleens longer than 30 cm is futile at this time (100% conversion).

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