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South African Journal of Surgery

On-line version ISSN 2078-5151
Print version ISSN 0038-2361


AKINKUOLIE, A. A. et al. Determinants of splenectomy in splenic injuries following blunt abdominal trauma. S. Afr. j. surg. [online]. 2010, vol.48, n.1, pp.15-19. ISSN 2078-5151.

INTRODUCTION: The management of splenic injuries has shifted from splenectomy to splenic preservation owing to the risk of overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI). This study aimed to identify the factors that determine splenectomy in patients with isolated splenic injuries, with a view to increasing the rate of splenic preservation. PATIENTS AND METHOD: Files of 55 patients managed for isolated splenic injuries from blunt abdominal trauma between 1998 and 2007 were retrospectively analysed using a pro forma. Management options were classified into nonoperative, operative salvage and splenectomy. RESULTS: The majority of patients suffered splenic injury as a result of motor vehicle accident (MVA) trauma or falls. Splenectomy was undertaken in 33 (60%) patients, 12 (22%) had non-operative management, and operative salvage was achieved in 10 (18%) patients. Significant determinants of splenectomy were grade of splenic injury, hierarchy of the surgeon, and hierarchy of the assistant. DISCUSSION: MVA injury and falls accounted for the vast majority of blunt abdominal trauma in this study. The rate and magnitude of energy transferred versus splenic protective mechanisms at the time of blunt abdominal trauma seems to determine the grade of splenic injury. Interest in splenic salvage surgery, availability of technology that enables splenic salvage surgery, and the experience of the surgeon and assistant appear to determine the surgical management. CONCLUSION: Legislation on vehicle safety and good parental control may reduce the severity of splenic injury in blunt abdominal trauma. When surgery is indicated, salvage surgery should be considered in intermediate isolated splenic injury to reduce the incidence of OPSI.

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