Splenic trauma in the twenty-first century: changing trends in management

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Abstract

Over the past three decades, management of blunt splenic trauma has changed radically. Use of improved diagnostic techniques and proper understanding of disease pathology has led to nonoperative management being chosen as the standard of care in patients who are haemodynamically stable. This review was undertaken to assess available literature regarding changing trends of management of blunt splenic trauma, and to identify the existing lacunae in nonoperative management.

The PubMed database was searched for studies published between January 1987 and August 2017, using the keywords ‘blunt splenic trauma’ and ‘nonoperative management’. One hundred and fifty-three articles were reviewed, of which 82 free full texts and free abstracts were used in the current review.

There is clear evidence in published literature of the greater success of nonoperative over operative management in patients who are haemodynamically stable and the increasing utility of adjunctive therapies like angiography with embolisation. However, the review revealed a lack of universal guidelines for patient selection criteria and diagnostic and grading procedures needed for nonoperative management. Indications for splenic artery embolisation, the current role of splenectomy and spleen-preserving surgeries, together with the place of minimal access surgery in blunt splenic trauma remain grey areas. Moreover, parameters affecting the outcomes of nonoperative management and its failure and management need to be defined. This shows a need for future studies focused on these shortcomings with the ultimate aim being the formulation and implementation of universally accepted guidelines for safe and efficient management of blunt splenic trauma.

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