Conference Coverage

Splenic artery embolization increases risk of complications



Blunt splenic injury patients undergoing splenic artery embolization are at higher risk of infectious complications and readmissions in the long term, according to a study presented at the annual scientific assembly of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma.

As nonoperative treatments are becoming more common for managing blunt splenic injury (BSI), it is important to understand the risks associated with splenic artery embolization (SAE) and how this treatment may be impacting a larger trend of posttrauma readmissions, according to presenter Rishi Rattan, MD, an acute care surgeon at the University of Miami.

“If we were cutting off the blood supply, and the splenic function was thus decreasing, then maybe the spleen wasn’t as effective in fighting infection as we thought it might be,” said Dr. Rattan in a phone interview. “This means if we were counseling patients between splenic artery embolization, nonoperative management, and splenectomy, and we were equating the effectiveness of [embolization] and nonoperative management in terms of fighting infection and that was not correct, we would be doing our patients a disservice.”

The retrospective study included 37,986 BSI patients admitted into the National Readmissions Database from 2010 to 2014, treated with either nonoperative management (NOM), SAE, or operative management (OM).

Readmission rates for infection after 30 days were significantly higher among SAE (15.4%) and OM (21.9%) patients, compared with NOM patients (6.7%), according to Dr. Rattan. Patients who underwent SAE also had a 17.2% rate of infection after 1 year; significantly higher than the 8.1% of patients who underwent NOM, although less than the 23.2% of those who underwent OM.

For readmission due to organ surgical site infection, patients with SAE had a higher frequency at 30-day (2.9%) and 1-year (3.9%) readmission, compared with both NOM (1.3%, 1.7%) and OM (2.0%, 2.2%).

This can be particularly problematic as these organ surgical site infections, deep in the abdominal cavity around the splenic bed, are usually more complicated to manage, compared with a superficial infection, explained Dr. Rattan. Physiologically, it makes sense that having dead tissue left in the splenic bed could lead to a rise in infection, although more data are necessary to confirm that hypothesis.

SAE was a significant predictive factor for complications after BSI, increasing the odds of 30-day and 1-year readmission by 76% and 99%, respectively, from organ surgical site infection, compared with NOM (P less than .01). Other predictive factors included hospital stays longer than 4 days, not being discharged to home, and a Charlson Comorbidity index score greater than 1.

With an incidence rate of readmission among embolization patients at 30 days and 1 year double that of NOM, Dr. Rattan and fellow investigators suggest surgeons should be conscious of the risks of SAE and OM, especially as infection is a major case of morbidity after trauma in splenectomy patients.

The investigators reported no relevant financial disclosures.

Recommended Reading

FVC deterioration signals increasing risk in rib fracture patients
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Clinical rule decreased pediatric trauma CT scans
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Elderly trauma patients at high risk for post-discharge mortality
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Mental health stressors still loom for Puerto Ricans after Maria
MDedge Emergency Medicine
Exploding e-cigs can cause grievous injuries
MDedge Emergency Medicine