Overall reported success rate of observational management (without angiography) is 92-96%.
Recent success rate of non-operative management (NOM) (i.e. observational management only + NOM with angioembolization) has been reported in the range of 93-100%.
Probability of delayed hemorrhage after NOM ranges from 0-15 % with a higher probability in higher grade injuries.
It is difficult to distinguish between delayed hemorrhage and hemorrhage that was missed on the initial CT. This is particularly the case with older studies that used older CT technology. For this reason, more recent studies that clearly indicate delayed hemorrhage have been consulted.
What is the rate of spontaneous resolution of active hemorrhage detected as contrast blush on initial CT scan?
Probability of blush detected on CT leading to absence of extravasation on angiography ranges from 2.3-47 %.
One retrospective study showed 100% (3/3) patients with contrast blush on initial CT had no blush on post-transfer repeat CT.
Conservatively estimated, NOM of splenic injury results in a success rate of >98% for Grade 1-2 injuries, >90% for Grade 3 injuries, and >75% for Grade 4-5 injuries. Angiography is variably used to achieve these rates.
- Emergent angiography/angioembolization is indicated in hemodynamically unstable patients with immediate access to interventional radiology who have responded to appropriate resuscitation and demonstrate active vascular extravasation on contrast CT. The higher level of care transfer of splenic injury patients that are or have been unstable for the purposes of
urgent angioembolization is not recommended if the patient is in a centre with general surgical capability and can perform splenectomy.
- Emergent angiography/angioembolization is indicated in hemodynamically stable patients with major free extravasation not likely to abate.
- Angioembolization within 72 hours is indicated in hemodynamically stable or stabilized patients with pseudoaneurysm or arterio-venous fistula identified on CT or ultrasound imaging.
- Patients with splenic injury demonstrating contrast blush on CT are at an elevated risk for failing non-operative management (NOM). The consulting surgeon and interventional radiologist should communicate once initial imaging is completed and collaborate on a management plan in the event of failure of NOM.
- In centres without interventional radiology capability, if follow-up imaging demonstrates an indication for angioembolization, patients should be transferred under the care of a general surgeon to a higher level of care (HLOC) trauma referral centre for this procedure within 48 hours.
- Angiography should be considered for patients with American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) grade of greater than III injuries, presence of a contrast blush, moderate hemoperitoneum, or evidence of ongoing splenic bleeding. [EAST: Level 2]
- AG/AE may be considered the first-line intervention in patients with hemodynamic stability and arterial blush on CT scan irrespective from injury grade. [WSES: 2B]
- AG/AE may be performed in hemodynamically stable and rapid responder patients with moderate and severe lesions and in those with vascular injuries at CT scan (contrast blush, pseudoaneurysms and arterio-venous fistula). [WSES: 2A]
- AG/AE should be considered in all hemodynamically stable patients with WSES grade III lesions, regardless with the presence of CT blush. [WSES: 1B]
- AG/AE could be considered in patients undergoing to NOM, hemodynamically stable with signs of persistent hemorrhage regardless of the presence of CT blush once excluded extrasplenic source of bleeding. [WSES: 1C]
Accepted hemodynamic stability (including after resuscitation and not likely to abate) and diagnostic imaging abnormalities (i.e. active vascular extravasation, pseudoaneurysm, and arterio-venous fistula) as indicators for IR consult for AG/AE (A, B, C).
Contrast blush on CT emphasized as an elevated risk for NOM failure.
Emphasized interdisciplinary collaboration between consulting surgeon and interventional radiologist (D).
- Contrast blush on CT scan alone is not an absolute indication for an operation or angiographic intervention. Factors such as patient age, grade of injury, and presence of hypotension need to be considered in the clinical management of these patients. [EAST: Level 3]
- Hemodynamically stable patients with WSES grade II lesions without blush should not undergo routine AG/AE but may be considered for prophylactic proximal embolization in presence of risk factors for NOM failure. [WSES: 2B]
- In patients with bleeding vascular injuries and in those with intraperitoneal blush, AG/AE should be performed as part of NOM only in centres where AG/AE is rapidly available. In other centres and in case of rapid hemodynamic deterioration, OM should be considered. [WSES: 2B]
|Outlined transfer requirements to HLOC and emphasized inter-facility communication. (E)|
What is the success rate of angiography/angioembolizations in blunt splenic injuries?
Success rate of AG/AE range from 73-100%.
In severe injuries (Grades 4-5), difference in success rate between NOM with and without angioembolization can be as great as 78.4%. Failure rate of NOM without AG/AE can be as high as 26% in these injuries.
Conflicting evidence exists for the benefits of angioembolization in preventing splenectomy.
What are the complications of angiography/angioembolizations in blunt splenic injuries?
Major complications of AE include: delayed bleeding, total or subtotal splenic infarction, splenic abscesses, acute renal insufficiency, pseudocysts, and puncture-related complications. Rate of major complications range from 3.7-28.5%.
Minor complications include fever, pleural effusion, coil migration, and partial splenic infarction. Rate of minor complications range from 23-61%.
No randomized control trials exist comparing morbidity related to AG/AE and NOM without AG/AE.
A large prospective study found AG/AE-related morbidity of 47% compared to morbidity of 10% in NOM without AG/AE.
A large study of post-discharge complications in patients who received NOM found higher rate of thirty-day readmission among patients who received NOM with AE than patients who did not receive AE (12.8% vs. 7.4%, p=0.002).
- In the presence of a single vascular abnormality (contrast blush, pseudo-aneurysms, and arteriovenous fistula) in minor and moderate injuries, the currently available literature is inconclusive regarding whether proximal or distal embolization should be used. In general, selective angioembolization is preferred, where safe and feasible. [Adopted from WSES with modification]
- In the presence of a single vascular abnormality (contrast blush, pseudo-aneurysms, and artero-venous fistula) in minor and moderate injuries, the currently available literature is inconclusive regarding whether proximal or distal embolization should be used. In the presence of multiple splenic vascular abnormalities or in the presence of a severe lesion, proximal or combined AG/AE should be used, after confirming the presence of a permissive pancreatic vascular anatomy. [WSES: 1C]
|Adopted first sentence. Replaced second sentence with preference for selective (i.e. proximal) angioembolization due to fewer minor complications reported in retrospective cohort studies (see below).|
What is the effectiveness of selective versus non-selective angioembolization? What are the complications?
No prospective studies or randomized controlled trials available on the subject.
No significant difference observed in overall failure rate between distal and proximal embolization.
No significant difference has been observed between proximal and distal embolization for incidence of major infarctions, infections or re-bleeding.
Higher rate of minor complications has been reported in distal than in proximal embolization (see table below). Proximal embolization is also protective in high grade injuries.
Complications in proximal vs. distal splenic embolization
Immediate Transfer (< 24 hours):
- Patients who are hemodynamically stable with associated major injuries requiring urgent higher level of care (e.g. traumatic brain injury) should be transferred promptly to a Level 1 or 2 trauma centre.
- Hemodynamically stable patients with negligible risk* of ongoing or delayed hemorrhage may be safely managed, without higher level of care (HLOC) transfer, in a rural/remote facility provided at least 2 units of packed red blood cells are available. This management plan should be reviewed with a general surgeon and Trauma Team Leader (TTL) on call at the HLOC trauma referral centre in sites without surgical capabilities.
- CT-confirmed Grade 1-2 splenic injuries without evidence of active haemorrhage or pseudoaneurysm, anticoagulated patient, associated major injury, age ≥65 or limited physiologic reserve.
- Patients with Grade 3-5 splenic injuries or associated major injury should be transferred to an appropriate trauma referral centre. Centres receiving these patients should have IR capability to facilitate angioembolization if needed. A general surgeon must be actively involved in the transfer process and the ongoing care of transferred patients.
- The HLOC transfer of splenic injury patients that are or have been unstable for the purposes of urgent angioembolization is not recommended if the patient is in a centre with general surgical capability and can perform splenectomy.
- For patients undergoing emergent splenectomy prior to HLOC transfer, arrangements for transfer through Patient Transfer Network (PTN) should be made as early as possible, preferably pre-operatively or intra-operatively to avoid delay.
Delayed Transfer (> 24 hours):
- In centres without interventional radiology capability, if follow-up imaging demonstrates an indication for angioembolization, patients should be transferred under the care of a general surgeon to a HLOC trauma referral centre for this procedure within 48 hours.
|None||Recommendations regarding transfer to higher level of care were drafted, based on provincial realities and the expert opinion of the SAG.|
- Patients with Grade 1-2 splenic injuries can be monitored in a general surgery ward. The patient should have good IV access and assessed frequently for vital signs.
- Patients with Grade 3-5 splenic injuries undergoing non-operative management (NOM) should be observed initially in a monitored intermediate care unit or intensive care unit (ICU). Appropriate initial monitoring includes the capacity to provide hourly vital signs as well as cardiac, oxygen saturation and urine output monitoring. Serial examination by a general surgeon is essential.
- Hemoglobin should be monitored at regular intervals until stabilized.
- It is recommended that therapeutic anticoagulation be reversed promptly in patients with high risk splenic injury, unless the risk of reversal is considered higher than the risk of splenic hemorrhage.
- Clinical and laboratory observation associated [with] bed rest in moderate and severe lesions is the cornerstone in the first 48-72 hour follow-up. [WSES: 1C]
|The only external recommendation for monitoring pertains to the first 48-72 hours. Created new recommendations outlining monitoring requirements based on expert opinion.|
- Repeat CT imaging in hemodynamically stable patients should be obtained within 72 hours post injury for Grade 3-5 splenic injuries. Any changes in clinical status should prompt urgent reassessment, including laboratory investigations and/or CT as appropriate.
- After blunt splenic injury, clinical factors such as a persistent systemic inflammatory response, increasing/persistent abdominal pain, or an otherwise unexplained drop in hemoglobin should dictate the frequency of and need for followup imaging for a patient with blunt splenic injury. [EAST: Level 3]
- CT scan repetition during the admission should be considered in patients with moderate and severe lesions or in decreasing hematocrit, in presence of vascular anomalies or underlying splenic pathology or coagulopathy, and in neurologically impaired patients. [WSES: 2A]
|Developed umbrella phrase “any changes in clinical status” as potential indicator of repeat imaging or other investigations. Accepted WSES indication for repeat CT in higher grade injuries and added time frame within which to obtain the repeat scan based on evidence of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation as early as 48 hours (see below) and on logistical realities of provincial trauma centres.|
What is the incidence of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation by injury grade? Timing of formation?
Overall rate of incidence of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation ranges from 3.0- 15.4% to as high as 74%.
A retrospective multicentre study found incidence of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation in 17.7% of patients treated with initial observation and 11.9% of patients treated with early angioembolization.
Probability of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation is greater in patients with high grade splenic injuries—as high as 50% in Grade 4-5 injuries versus 24% in Grade ≤3 injuries.
Delayed splenic pseudoaneurysm formation by injury grade
|Muroya 2013 (n=16)||0%||30.4%||18.4%||0%||--|
|Leeper 2014 (n=25)||4%||16%||24%||56%||--|
Timing of splenic pseudoaneurysm formation varies, from 48 hours to 1-8 hospital days after injury. A large prospective study found the 180-day risk of splenectomy after NOM was 3.5%, with higher risk for higher grade injuries (6.9% for grades 3-5 injuries).
What is the risk of pseudoaneurysm bleeding?
Major risk of pseudoaneurysm is hemorrhage leading to splenic rupture:
- Risk of hemorrhage from splenic pseudoaneurysm: 37%
- Risk of splenic rupture due to undetected splenic pseudoaneurysm: 3-10%
- Risk of mortality after splenic rupture: 10-25%, as high as 90% if left untreated
- There is no need to restrict mobilization in patients with splenic injury and early mobilization is encouraged. Patients with high risk injuries* should remain supervised until assessed as safe to ambulate independently off unit.
- CT-confirmed Grade 3-5 splenic injuries, particularly with evidence of active haemorrhage or pseudoaneurysm, anticoagulated patient, associated major injury, age ≥65 or limited physiologic reserve.
- Post-discharge, patients with Grade 3-5 splenic injuries should avoid contact sports or vigorous activities for at least 8 weeks. Patients with Grade 3-5 splenic injuries should be re-imaged prior to resuming high-risk activities.
Activity restriction may be suggested for 4-6 weeks in minor injuries and up to 2-4 months in moderate and severe injuries. [WSES: 2C]
New recommendation has been created, based on recent evidence (see below) and expert opinion of the SAG.
What is the risk of delayed hemorrhage in blunt splenic patients without activity restrictions?
Several recent studies have shown no association between early mobilization with minimal bed rest and delayed splenic hemorrhage both in adult and pediatric patients with blunt splenic injuries via NOM.
- Pharmacologic prophylaxis to prevent venous thromboembolism (VTE) can be used for patients with isolated blunt splenic injuries without increasing the failure rate of non-operative management. Although the optimal timing of safe initiation has not been determined, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prophylaxis may be started as soon as possible after trauma and within 12 hours for every Grade of splenic injury (e.g. 36 hours for Grade 3 injury) or sooner if hemoglobin is stable. [Adopted from EAST and WSES with modification]
- Mechanical prophylaxis should be used in all patients with absolute contraindication to pharmacologic prophylaxis, except in patients with lower extremity trauma in which case mechanical prophylaxis is not efficacious. [Adopted from WSES with modification]
- Pharmacologic prophylaxis to prevent venous thromboembolism can be used for patients with isolated blunt splenic injuries without increasing the failure rate of non-operative management, although the optimal timing of safe initiation has not been determined. [EAST: Level 3]
- Spleen trauma without ongoing bleeding is not an absolute contraindication to LMWH-based prophylactic anticoagulation. [WSES: 2A]
- LMWH-based prophylactic anticoagulation should be started as soon as possible from trauma and may be safe in selected patients with blunt splenic injury undergoing NOM. [WSES: 2B]
- In patients with oral anticoagulants the risk-benefit balance of reversal should be individualized. [WSES: 2B]
Consolidated external recommendations.
Added timing of VTE prophylaxis (i.e. within 12 hours for every injury grade) based on the expert opinion of the SAG.
- Mechanical prophylaxis is safe and should be considered in all patients without absolute contraindication to its use. [WSES: 2A]
|Added a contraindication for the use of mechanical prophylaxis: patients with lower extremity trauma.|
What is the risk of developing thrombosis VTE prophylaxis after blunt splenic injuries?
A prospective study (n=147) found 5% risk of developing VTE after trauma-related splenectomy.
A large retrospective study (n=6,162) found 1.97 times greater risk of VTE in splenic injury than in control, with a rate of 10.08 per 10,000 person-years (8.46 no splenectomy, 11.81 splenectomy).
A large prospective study (n=675) found increased risk for VTE with splenectomy (AOR 2.6, 95% CI 1.2 to 5.9).
What is the incidence of hemorrhage in splenic patients with/without VTE prophylaxis?
Several retrospective studies indicate low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) administration does not increase the failure rate of NOM or increase the risk of bleeding events.
- Patients should receive immunization against the encapsulated bacteria (S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, and N. meningitidis) post-splenectomy or post-proximal angioembolization. Refer to
national guidelines for vaccine dosage. [Adopted from WSES with modification]
- Revaccination against pneumococcus is recommended every 10 years.
- Vaccination should be administered >14 days post-splenectomy/embolization. For patients where follow-up is a concern, vaccination prior to discharge is recommended. [Adopted from EAST and WSES]
- Regarding infection prophylaxis in asplenic and hyposplenic adult patients:
- immunization against seasonal flu is recommended;
- malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended for travellers;
- antibiotic therapy should be strongly considered in the event of any sudden onset of unexplained fever, malaise, chills or other constitutional symptoms, especially when medical review is not readily accessible; and
- primary care providers should be aware of the splenectomy/angioembolization. [Adopted from WSES]
- Patients should receive immunization against the encapsulated bacteria (S. pneumoniae,
H. influenzae, and
N. meningitidis). [WSES: 1A]
|Adopted and added "post-splenectomy or post-proximal angioembolization" for clarity in clinical management.|
- Vaccination programs should be started no sooner than 14 days after splenectomy or spleen total vascular exclusion. [WSES: 2C]
- In patients discharged before 15 days after splenectomy or angioembolization, where the risk to miss vaccination is deemed high, the best choice is to vaccinate before discharge. [WSES: 1B]
|Adopted and combined the two statement into one recommendation.|
Other vaccination indications:|
- Regarding infections prophylaxis in asplenic and hyposplenic adult and pediatric patients, immunization against seasonal flu is recommended for patients over 6 months of age. [WSES: 1C]
- Regarding infections prophylaxis in asplenic and hyposplenic adult and pediatric patients, Malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended for travellers. [WSES: 2C]
- Regarding infections prophylaxis in asplenic and hyposplenic adult and pediatric patients, antibiotic therapy should be strongly considered in the event of any sudden onset of unexplained fever, malaise, chills or other constitutional symptoms, especially when medical review is not readily accessible. [WSES: 2A]
- Regarding infections prophylaxis in asplenic and hyposplenic adult and pediatric patients, primary care providers should be aware of the splenectomy/ angioembolization. [WSES: 2C]
|Adopted and combined the four statements into one recommendation for easier reading.|
What is the risk of overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) with splenectomy or splenic embolization after splenic injury?
Risk of overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) with splenectomy or splenic embolization ranges from 0.05-23 %, with the majority of infections occurring more than 2 years following the procedure.
A large retrospective study (n= 4,360) of blunt splenic trauma patients in California reported short- and long-term infectious complications by procedure:
30 days after injury||
1 year after injury|
A larger retrospective study of over 4000 patients with grade 4-5 splenic injuries reported infectious complications i n11.7% in the angioembolization group and 23.1% in the splenectomy group.
Risk of mortality due to OPSI is 30-70%, most deaths occurring within the first 24 hours.
What is the optimal timing of vaccination?
All vaccines are best administered 2 weeks after surgery. If the patient is discharged earlier and there is concern that they might not return for follow-up, vaccines should be administered prior to discharge.
What is the effectiveness of vaccination? What is the effectiveness of repeat vaccination?
Effectiveness and administration schedule of vaccination in asplenic/hyposplenic adults
Vaccine efficacy (VE)||
In healthy adults age ≥ 65 years: 75% (95% CI, 41.4 to 90.8)
In healthy older adults VE ranges from 45-73%. Efficacy wanes over time.
Repeat vaccinations: PPV23
No evidence of hyporesponsiveness if administered 5 years or longer from initial dose.
|1) 1 dose of PCV vaccine (at least 1 year after any previous dose of PPV23 vaccine)|
2) 1 does of PPV23 vaccine at least 8 weeks after PCV13 vaccine
3) 1 booster does of PPV23 vaccine at least 5 years later
Only data available is for Men-C-ACYW-135-DT (Menactra). Early estimates indicate 80-85% VE within 3-4 years of vaccination, efficacy waning over time.
Age 10-23 years: 78% (95% CI, 29 to 93%)
No data available.
Repeat vaccination: Men-C-ACYW
No evidence of hyporesponsiveness for conjugate meningococcal vaccines, including Men-A-ACYW.
Age ≥11 years:
1) 2 doses of Men-C-ACYW 8 weeks apart (see notes below)
2) 2 doses of 4CMenB given at least 4 weeks apart (see notes below)
3) Re-vaccination with Men-C-ACYW recommended every 5 years for those vaccinated at 7 years of age and older.
Haemophilus Influenza Type B||
Estimated 95-100% VE in children
|1 dose recommended regardless of Hib immunization history (at least one year after any previous dose)|
PHAC=Public Health Agency of Canada
PCV13=Pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine
PPV23=Pneumococcal polysaccharide 23-valent vaccine
Men-ACYW=Quadrivalent conjugate meningococcal vaccines
4CMenB=Multicomponent meningococcal vaccine
Hib=Haemophilus Influenzae Type B
Men-C-ACYW vaccines are not authorized for use in adults 56 years of age and older and 4CMenB vaccine is not authorized for use in those 17 years of age and older. However, based on limited evidence and expert opinion its use is considered appropriate.
Although not recommended for routine immunization, 4CMenB vaccine should be considered for immunization of high-risk individuals (age ≥2 months) against invasive meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B strains expressing antigen covered by the vaccine.
- Post-discharge outpatient follow-up with imaging is recommended within 12 weeks. Patients with grade 1-2 injuries should avoid contact sports or vigorous activities for at least 8 weeks. Grade 3-5 splenic injuries should be re-imaged at 8 weeks if the patient plans to resume high risk activities to rule out pseudoaneurysm, subcapsular hematoma, etc.
- Abdominal CT can be used for follow-up imaging and may allow for earlier return to sports activities. [Adapted from WSES]
|Doppler US and contrast-enhanced US are useful to evaluate splenic vascularization and in follow-up. [WSES: 1B]||SAG agreed with WSES recommendation to use Doppler ultrasound for follow-up imaging.|
Added further recommendation for follow-up more broadly, including timeline, imaging and return to work/sports evaluations, to offer guidance in clinical judgment based on the expert opinion of the SAG.
For risk of
delayed hemorrhage after non-operative management of blunt splenic injury, see page 17.
For the risk and timing of
pseudoaneurysm formation after non-operative management of blunt splenic injury, see p. 24.
- If a new pseudoaneurysm is noted on follow-up imaging, discussion with general surgery is recommended to determine best management, e.g. serial imaging vs. embolization.
|None available||With lack of scientific evidence or external clinical guidance on the management of delayed splenic pseudoaneurysms, a new recommendation was developed based on the SAG's expert opinion.|