Routine follow-up imaging is unnecessary in the management of blunt hepatic injury

Jordy C. Cox, Timothy C. Fabian, George O. Maish, Tiffany K. Bee, F. Elizabeth Pritchard, Stephan E. Russ, Dara Grieger, Marie I. Winestone, Ben L. Zarzaur, Martin A. Croce, Gail T. Tominaga, J. H. Patton, Juan A. Asensio

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Abstract

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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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery

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