With increasing experience and knowledge about nonoperative management of splenic injury (NOMSI), patients are being discharged early and possibly placed at risk for late failure of NOMSI and its associated complications. To evaluate if blunt trauma patients managed by NOMSI can be safely discharged early, because failure after the third day from injury occurs infrequently and is not associated with added morbidity.
The medical records of patients who failed NOMSI from January 1993 to December 2005 in an academic level 1 trauma center were reviewed. Patients who failed NOMSI within 3 days (early failure) were compared with patients who failed it after 3 days (late failure) to identify characteristics that may help predict late failure. Primary outcomes were complications and death related to late failure.
Of 691 patients admitted with blunt trauma to the spleen, 499 (72%) had NOMSI and 36 (7%) failed it. Early failure was recorded in 26 patients (5%) and late failure in 10 (2%). Late bleeding was the cause of failure in all patients with late failure and occurred in 8 ± 6 (mean ± SD) days after admission (4-8 days in 7 patients and 12-22 days in 3). When comparing age, Injury Severity Score, hemotocrit on admission, preoperative blood transfusions, and grade of splenic injury, no differences were found between patients with early and late failure. All but 1 patient with late failure were still in the hospital for associated injuries at the time of failure. No patient died, had delayed diagnosis, or suffered added morbidity because of late failure.
Late failure occurs infrequently, unpredictably, and almost always in patients who are still in the hospital for associated injuries. In-hospital observation beyond the third day after injury is not necessary for most patients with splenic injury, who have no other reason to remain hospitalized.
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Accepted: May 5, 2007
© 2007 Mosby, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.