Nonoperative management of solid abdominal organ injuries from blunt trauma: Impact of neurologic impairment

Michael B. Shapiro*, Michael L. Nance, Henry J. Schiller, William S. Hoff, Donald R. Kauder, C. William Schwab

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The role of nonoperative management of solid abdominal organ injury from blunt trauma in neurologically impaired patients has been questioned. A statewide trauma registry was reviewed from January 1993 through December 1995 for all adult (age >12 years) patients with blunt trauma and an abdominal solid organ injury (kidney, liver, or spleen) of Abbreviated Injury Scale score ≥2. Patients with initial hypotension (systolic blood pressure <90 mm Hg) were excluded. Patients were stratified by Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) into normal (GCS 15), mild to moderate (GCS 8-14), and severe (GCS ≤7) impairment groups. Management was either operative or nonoperative; failure of nonoperative management was defined as requiring laparotomy for intraabdominal injury more than 24 hours after admission. In the 3-year period 2327 patients sustained solid viscus injuries; 1561 of these patients were managed nonoperatively (66 per cent). The nonoperative approach was initiated less frequently in those patients with greater impairment in mental status: GCS 15, 71 per cent; GCS 8 to 14, 62 per cent; and GCS ≤7, 50 per cent. Mortality, hospital length of stay, and intensive care unit days were greater in operatively managed GCS 15 and 8 to 14 groups but were not different on the basis of management in the GCS ≤7 group. Failure of nonoperative management occurred in 94 patients (6%). There was no difference in the nonoperative failure rate between patients with normal mental status and those with mild to moderate or severe head injuries. Nonoperative management of neurologically impaired hemodynamically stable patients with blunt injuries of liver, spleen, or kidney is commonly practiced and is successful in more than 90 per cent of cases. No differences were noted in the rates of delayed laparotomy or survival between normal, mild to moderately head-injured, and severely head-injured patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-796
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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