Background: Nonoperative management has become the standard of care for hemodynamically stable patients with complex liver trauma. The benefits of such treatment may be obviated, though, by complications such as arteriovenous fistulas, bile leaks, intrahepatic or perihepatic abscesses, and abnormal communications between the vascular system and the biliary tree (hemobilia and bilhemia).
Methods: We reviewed the hospital charts of 135 patients with blunt liver trauma who were treated nonoperatively between July 1995 and December 1997.
Results: Thirty-two patients (24%) developed complications that required additional interventional treatment. Procedures less invasive than celiotomy were often performed, including arteriography and selective embolization in 12 patients (37%), computed tomography-guided drainage of infected collections in 10 patients (31%), endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography with endoscopic sphincterotomy and biliary endostenting in 8 patients (25%), and laparoscopy in 2 patients (7%). Overall, nonoperative interventional procedures were used successfully to treat these complications in 27 patients (85%).
Conclusion: In hemodynamically stable patients with blunt liver trauma, nonoperative management is the current treatment of choice. In patients with severe liver injuries, however, complications are common. Most untoward outcomes can be successfully managed nonoperatively using alternative therapeutic options. Early use of these interventional procedures is advocated in the initial management of the complications of severe blunt liver trauma.