May 1985

Selective Nonoperative Management of Blunt Liver Injury Using Computed Tomography

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Meyer, Crass, Lim, and Trunkey) and Radiology (Drs Jeffrey and Federle), University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco General Hospital. Dr Meyer is now with the Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Arch Surg. 1985;120(5):550-554. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1985.01390290032005

• Computed tomographic (CT) scans are used to evaluate victims of blunt trauma for abdominal injury when reasons for immediate laparotomy are not present. Twenty-four patients whose CT scans showed liver injuries that were small parenchymal lacerations or intrahepatic hematomas were managed without laparotomy. Intra-abdominal blood was absent or estimated to be less than 250 mL in volume. None of the patients were in shock; six patients required transfusions, none for acute abdominal bleeding. None of these patients subsequently required laparotomy or showed hepatobiliary problems at a follow-up examination less than one year later. Five follow-up scans showed varying degrees of resolution. Two patients died of severe head injury, but the liver injury did not contribute to the cause of death. Other patients with more severe blunt liver injury who were treated nonoperatively developed significant complications that required delayed surgery. It seems that patients with limited liver injury diagnosed by CT scan and selected by strictly applied criteria can be managed safely without laparotomy in a setting where rapid evaluation and treatment of any potential complication is available.

(Arch Surg 1985;120:550-554)