Successful non-operative management of haemodynamically unstable traumatic splenic injuries: 4-year case series in a UK major trauma centre

Richard A Armstrong, Andrew Macallister, Benjamin Walton, Julian Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


PURPOSE: Management of traumatic splenic injury may be operative or non-operative (including embolization and conservative management). Traditionally, haemodynamic instability has been an indication for operative intervention. We aimed to report our experience of managing traumatic splenic injury at a regional major trauma centre in the UK over a 4-year period, with a particular focus on the non-operative management (NOM) of haemodynamically unstable patients.

METHODS: All patients with splenic injuries admitted to North Bristol NHS Trust from April 2012 to March 2016 were included. Patients were classified for analyses by injury severity (low or high grade), haemodynamic instability (defined as a reverse shock index < 1) and management category (operative or non-operative).

RESULTS: 106 patients were included. Overall 85.8% of patients received NOM: 79.2% conservative and 6.6% interventional radiology. Two patients (2.4%) managed conservatively required further intervention. Haemodynamically stable and unstable patients were equally likely to receive NOM (89.7 and 81.3% respectively, p = 1). All unstable patients with low-grade injuries were managed conservatively and only one (2.7%) required further intervention. Two unstable patients with high-grade injuries (28.6%) underwent NOM successfully.

CONCLUSIONS: These data support the safe application of non-operative management to haemodynamically unstable patients with traumatic splenic injury, particularly in those with low-grade injuries. Additional prospective work is required to define the subgroup of patients for whom this is appropriate and to determine the long-term outcomes of NOM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)933-938
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of trauma and emergency surgery : official publication of the European Trauma Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2018


  • Abdominal Injuries/therapy
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spleen/injuries
  • Trauma Centers
  • United Kingdom
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating/therapy
  • Young Adult


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