Evaluation of a 15-year experience with splenic injuries in a state trauma system

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The management of splenic injuries has evolved with a greater emphasis on nonoperative management. Although several institutions have demonstrated that nonoperative management of splenic injuries can be performed with an increasing degree of success, the impact of this treatment shift on outcome for all patients with splenic injuries remains unknown. We hypothesized that outcomes for patients with splenic injuries have improved as the paradigm for splenic injury treatment has shifted.


Consecutive patients from 1987 to 2001 with splenic injuries who were entered into a state trauma registry were reviewed. Demographic variables, injury characteristics, and outcome data were collected.


The number of patients who were diagnosed with splenic injuries increased from 1987 through 2001, despite a stable number of institutions submitting data to the registry. The number of minor injuries and severe splenic injuries remained stable, and the number of moderately severe injuries significantly increased over time. Overall mortality rate improved but primarily reflected the decreased mortality rates of moderately severe injuries; the mortality rate for severe splenic injuries was unchanged.


Trauma centers are seeing increasing numbers of splenic injuries that are less severe in magnitude, although the number of the most severe splenic injuries is stable. The increased proportion of patients with less severe splenic injuries who are being admitted to trauma centers is a significant factor in the increased use and success rate of nonoperative management.

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