Nonsurgical management of solid abdominal organ injury in patients over 55 years of age

Mark E. Falimirski, David Provost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


Age greater than 55 is often stated to be a contraindication to nonoperative management of intraperitoneal solid organ injury, based upon failures in early experiences of nonoperative therapy. Refinements in the criteria for nonoperative management of hepatic and splenic injuries have yielded improved success rates compared with those in initial reports, raising questions as to the validity of an age-related contraindication. A retrospective chart review of patients more than 55 years of age sustaining blunt hepatic and/or splenic injury at two urban Level I trauma centers was performed. Patients were stratified into three groups in which selection criteria could not consistently be determined: those managed nonoperatively, those managed operatively, and those who died within 24 hours. The purpose of this review is to identify whether age is a determinant for nonoperative management of abdominal solid organ injury. Eighty-eight patients were identified (mean age, 68.7 ± 9.8), 17 of whom died in the emergency department or after operative intervention. Of the remaining 71 patients, 37 were originally managed nonoperatively (mean age 69.9 ± 9.1, mean Injury Severity Score 19.9), 24 sustained hepatic injuries (grades I-IV), 12 sustained splenic injuries (grades I-III), and one patient sustained both organ injuries. Three patients with multisystem trauma died from complications unrelated to their solid organ injury (one brain death, one septic death, and one respiratory arrest). A single patient, with a grade I liver injury, required delayed exploration (for a persistent, unexplained metabolic acidosis) and underwent a nontherapeutic celiotomy. All but one of the 37 patients were successfully treated nonoperatively, for a 97 per cent success rate. We conclude that hemodynamically stable patients more than 55 years of age sustaining intra-abdominal injury can be observed safely. Age alone should no longer be considered an exclusion criterion for nonoperative management of intra-abdominal solid organ injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-635
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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