Active Hemorrhage and Vascular Injuries in Splenic Trauma: Utility of the Arterial Phase in Multidetector CT

Authors: Jennifer W. Uyeda, MD, Christina A. LeBedis, MD, David R. Penn, MD, Jorge A. Soto, MD, Stephan W. Anderson, MD

To determine whether the addition of arterial phase computed tomography (CT) to the standard combination of portal venous and delayed phase imaging increases sensitivity in the diagnosis of active hemorrhage and/or contained vascular injuries in patients with splenic trauma.

Materials and Methods
The institutional review board approved this HIPAA-compliant retrospective study; the requirement to obtain informed consent was waived. The study included all patients aged 15 years and older who sustained a splenic injury from blunt or penetrating trauma and who underwent CT in the arterial and portal venous phases of image acquisition during a 74-month period (September 2005 to November 2011). CT scans were reviewed by three radiologists, and a consensus interpretation was made to classify the splenic injuries according to the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma splenic injury scale. One radiologist independently recorded the presence of contained vascular injuries or active hemorrhage and the phase or phases at which these lesions were seen. Clinical outcome was assessed by reviewing medical records. The relationship between imaging findings and clinical management was assessed with the Fisher exact test.

One hundred forty-seven patients met the inclusion criteria; 32 patients (22%) had active hemorrhage and 22 (15%) had several contained vascular injuries. In 13 of the 22 patients with contained injuries, the vascular lesion was visualized only at the arterial phase of image acquisition; the other nine contained vascular injuries were seen at all phases. Surgery or embolization was performed in 11 of the 22 patients with contained vascular injury.

The arterial phase of image acquisition improves detection of traumatic contained splenic vascular injuries and should be considered to optimize detection of splenic injuries in trauma with CT.