From July 1978 to July 1985, 1,348 patients with hepatic injuries were treated. During this period, 66 patients (5.3% or 9.4 patients/year) required perihepatic packing. Penetrating wounds accounted for 77.2% of injuries requiring packing. Seventeen patients died in the operating room from massive hepatic and other intra-abdominal injuries and were excluded from further analysis. Perihepatic packing was inserted in 41 patients at a first operation and at a second or third operation in eight others. The major indications for packing were post-repair coagulopathies (85.5%) and extensive subcapsular hematomas or capsular avulsion (12.2%). Packing was removed from 28 surviving patients (28/49 = 57.1%) at an average of 3.7 days following insertion. Pack removal was accomplished by laparotomy in 24 patients (85.7%) and extraction through a hole in the body wall in four others. Ten postoperative intra-abdominal fluid collections, hematomas, or abscesses occurred in nine patients (9/49 = 18.4%) surviving the first operation. Perihepatic packing continues to be a life-saving adjunct in a highly selected group of patients with the most severe hepatic injuries and nonmechanical bleeding at the completion of repairs or extensive subcapsular hematomas.
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