Background: Nonoperative management of hemodynamically stable patients with blunt hepatic injuries has become the standard of care over the past decade. However, controversy regarding the role of in-hospital follow-up computed tomographic (CT) scans as a part of this non-operative management scheme is ongoing. Although many institutions, including our own, have advocated routine in-hospital follow-up scans, others have suggested a more selective policy. Over time, we have perceived a low yield from follow-up studies. The hypothesis for this study is that routine follow-up imaging of asymptomatic patients is unnecessary. Methods: All patients selected for nonoperative management of blunt hepatic injury were evaluated for utility of follow-up CT scans over a 4-year period. Results: There were 530 stable patients with hepatic injury on admission CT scans in which follow-up scans were obtained within a week of admission. All injuries were classified according to the revised American Association for the Surgery of Trauma Organ Injury Scale: 102 (19.2%) grade I, 181 (34.1%) grade II, 158 (29.8%) grade III, 74 (13.9%) grade IV, and 15 (2.8%) grade V. Follow-up scans showed that most injuries were either unchanged (51%) or unproved (34.7%). Only three patients underwent intervention based on their follow-up scans: two patients had arteriography (one with therapeutic embolization) and one had percutaneous drainage. Each of those patients had clinical signs or symptoms that were indicative of ongoing hepatic abnormality. Conclusion: These data demonstrate that, regardless of injury grade, routine in-hospital follow-up scans are not indicated as part of the nonoperative management of blunt liver injuries. Follow-up scans are indicated for patients who develop signs or symptoms suggestive of hepatic abnormality.
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