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  IN THIS Article
 ::  Abstract
 ::  Introduction
 ::  Material and method
 ::  Observations
 ::  Discussion
 ::  Acknowledgment
 ::  References

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Year : 1990  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 131-5

Liver trauma (management in 105 consecutive cases).

Department of Surgery, L.T.M. General Hospital, Sion, Bombay, Maharashtra.

Correspondence Address:
Department of Surgery, L.T.M. General Hospital, Sion, Bombay, Maharashtra.

  ::  Abstract

One hundred and five consecutive patients who sustained liver trauma during the period from Jan 1986 to Dec 1988 are reviewed. Of these, 82 cases suffered from blunt abdominal injury while the rest had penetrating trauma. Simple hepatorrhaphy and use of topical hemostatic agents were the only modes of treatment for 76 cases, hepato-omentorrhaphy was used in 12 cases and hepatotomy with selective vascular ligation and resectional debridement were carried out in remaining 17 cases. Mortality was 36.2% (38/105), 30 patients died of shock in the perioperative period. Uncomplicated recovery occurred in 50 cases.

How to cite this article:
Gupta S S, Ahluwalia S M, Anantharam P. Liver trauma (management in 105 consecutive cases). J Postgrad Med 1990;36:131

How to cite this URL:
Gupta S S, Ahluwalia S M, Anantharam P. Liver trauma (management in 105 consecutive cases). J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1990 [cited 2023 Jun 8];36:131. Available from:

  ::   Introduction Top

This is a report of 3 years' experience (Jan 1986-Dec. 1988) with 105 consecutive patients admitted at Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG) Hospital for hepatic injury.

  ::   Material and method Top

The data of 105 patients sustaining liver trauma was analyzed with respect to age, sex, mode of injury, anatomical nature of injury, 16 involvement of other organs, types of repairs carried out, complications encountered and mortality observed. Patients who died on admission in the emergency ward prior to any aactive surgical intervention were excluded from this study.
Diagnosis of liver injury in cases with blunt trauma was based on (a) physical examination (b) abdominal paracentesis (c) serial hematocrit values and (d) ultrasonography. In patients with penetrating injury exploratory laparotomy was required.

  ::   Observations Top

The age range of patients with hepatic trauma varied from 1 to 72 years; the maximum incidence occurring between the age group of 21-40 years. Of the l05 patients, 97 were males. Eighty-two patients sustained blunt trauma, mainly as a result of railway or vehicular accidents; 23 patients had penetrating injuries (stab or gunshot). [Table - 1]. It was also observed that the incidence of concomitant injury to other intra-abdominal organs was more following penetrating wounds. Forty of the 105 patients arrived in the emergency ward in a state of shock (BP less than 90/50 mm Hg).
[Table - 2] illustrates the classification of the observed liver injuries as per their anatomical nature.
In 76 cases simple procedure such as suture hepatorrhaphy with or without application of topical hemostatic agents was adopted. Hepato-omentorrhaphy was carried out in 12 cases. In these patients a viable omental pedicle was packed into the hepatic wound and sutured to the edges of Glisson's cqpsule superficially. Deep suturing was avoided. Advanced techniques of hemostasis and repairs such as extensive hepatorrhaphy, hepatotomy or resectional debridement with selective vascular ligation were required in 17 cases [Table - 3]. Other therapeutic management included autotransfusion (16 cases) and use of antibiotics viz penicillin, ampicillin and chloramphenicol (Higher antibiotics were used in complicated cases).
Fifty of 105 cases recovered without any complications, The complications observed in patients surviving for more than 48 hours (total no. 43) are illustrated in [Table:4].
The overall mortality in the series was 36.2% (38/105). Thirty patients died of shock during the peri-operative period; 25 of these had been admitted in shock to the hospital. On analyzing the causes of death, 24 (63.2%) deaths were thought to be unrelated to the liver injury, but as a consequence of associated head or multiple bone injuries. Fourteen deaths were directly related to hepatic injury [Table - 2]. When analyzed according to the operative procedure adopted, mortality was found to be less (26.3%) in patients undergoing simple hepatorrhaphy than those undergoing advanced techniques (62%) [Table - 3].

  ::   Discussion Top

Hepatotomy with selective vascular ligation[1],[2],[3],[7],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[20],[23],[24], insertion of omental packs into hepatotomy sites, adequate debridement of devitalised tissues, prompt correction of hypothermia and acidosis[4],[5] and blood component therapy to prevent coagulopathy 18 constitute the management of hepatic trauma.
Operative management depends on the magnitude of parenchymal destruction and associated vascular disruption. In our set up, more than two-thirds of cases were of class I or II, necessitating only simple operative manoeuvres. Though prophylactic perihepatic drainage has shown to be unwarranted[6], drainage of subhepatic space was a routine part of our management. This procedure was adopted due to shortage of blood, high incidence of infection and lack of investigative scans in post-operative period in our hospital. Topically used hemostatic agents can form a nidus for secondary infection and hence a restriricted use of them is advocated[21].
Management of haemorrhage due to class III injury is an issue of continued debate. The Pringles' manoeuvre (temporary occlusion of the hepatic artery and portal vein) and packing of the liver are the first priorities. Although human liver tolerance to warm is chaemia was considered maximum at 15 minutes for many years, the safe period is now believed to exceed an hour[10]. Pringles' manoeuvre timings were not recorded on papers and hence we are unable to comment on safe period of the same.
In class III injuries mattress sutures passed deeply through the lobar laceration are associated with two problems: (a) frequent failure of sutures to control haemorrhage and (b) extensive amount of hepatic necrosis that occurs underneath the tied sutures. Hepatotomy with selective vascular ligation (using 00 or 000 chromic catgut) rather than insertion of mattress sutures is now frequently done[26].
The use of viable pedicle of omenturn loosely placed into deep lobar laceration or hepatotomy sites after selective vascular ligation has gained widespread use since its introduction by Stone and Lamb in 1975[22]. We have found that the omenturn can be mobllized to form a long viable pedicle because of the arrangement of omental vessels. Omental packing is very easy in relatively inaccessible areas of liver, such as postero-superior and inferior surfaces where deep suturing is difficult. Omental packing also avoids closing lobar laceration or hepatotomy sites with mattress sutures, which would cause parenchymal necrosis and also reduce post-operative drainage from parenchymal surfaces. We strongly suggest the use of omental packing in patients with severe injuries as advocated by Pachter et al[19].
Procedures like formal hepatic lobectomy and therapeutic abdominal packing or selective hepatic artery ligation were not carried out in our hospital. These measures were rarely required[8],[9].
The incidence of mortality was found to be less following simple hepatorrhaphy because the procedure was adopted for less severe liver injury, while hepato-omentorrhaphy and ligation procedures were cartied out for class III and IV injuries. They account for the majority of deaths attributable to the liver per se. Haemorrhage is the main cause and occurs as a result of precipitous emanguination or refractory secondary coagyulopathy[17],[25].

  ::   Acknowledgment Top

We are grateful to the Dean, Dr. SV Nadkarni, LTMGH and Dr. TT Changlani, for permission to use the hospital records.

  ::   References Top

1. Cormona RH, Lim RC, Clark GC. Morbidity and mortality in hepatic trauma. A 5 year study. Amer J Surg 1982; 144:88-94.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Carroll CP, Cass KA, Whelan TJ Jr. Wounds of the liver in Vietnam: a critical analysis of 254 cases. Ann Surg 1973; 177:383-392.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Defore WW Jr, Mattox KL, Jordan GL (Jr), Beall AG. Management of 1590 consecutive cases of liver trauma. Arch Surg 1976; 11:493-497.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Elerding SC, Aragon GE, Moore EE. Fatal hepatic hemorrhage after trauma. Amer J Surg 1979; 138:883-888.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Elerding SC, Moore EE Jr. Recent experience with trauma of the liver. Surg Gynecol & Obstet 1980; 150:853- 855.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Fischer RP, O’Tarrell, KA, Perry JF (Jr.). The value of peritoneal drains in the treatment of liver injuries. J Trauma 1978; 18:393-399.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Flint LM, Mays ET, Aaron WS, Fulton RL, Polk, HC. Selectively in the management of hepatic trauma. Ann Surg 1977; 185:613-618.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Flint LM Jr, Polk HC Jr. Selective hepatic artery ligation: Limitation and failures. J Trauma 1979; 19:319-323.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Furnival CM, Mackenzie RJ, Blumgart LH. The mechanism of impaired coaplation after partial hepatectomy in the dog. Surg Gynecol & Obstet 1976; 143:81-86.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Huguet C, Nordlinger B, Bloch P, Canard Jr. Tolerance of the human liver to prolonged normothemic ischemia. A biological study of 20 patients submitted to extensive hepatectomy. Arch Surg 1978; 113:1448-1451.  Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Levin A, Gover P, Mance FC. Surgical restraint in the management of hepatic injury: A review of charity Hospital experience. J Trauma 1978; 18:399-404.  Back to cited text no. 11    
12.Lim RC, Lau G, Steele M. Prevention of complications after liver trauma. Amer J Surg 1976; 132:156-162.  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Lucas CE, Walt AJ. Critical decisions in Liver trauma Experience based on 604 cases. Arch Surg 1970; 101: 277-283.  Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Lucas CE, Ledgerwood AM. Prospective evaluation of hemostatic techniques for liver injuries. J Trauma 1976; 16:442-451.  Back to cited text no. 14    
15.McClelland RN, Shires T. Management of liver trauma in 259 consecutive patients. Ann Surg 1965; 161:248-257.  Back to cited text no. 15    
16.Moore EE. Critical decisions in the management of hepatic trauma. Amer J Surg 1984; 148:712-716.  Back to cited text no. 16    
17.Moore FA, Moore EE, Seagraves A. Nonresectional management of major hepatic trauma. An evolving concept. Amer J Surg 1985; 50:725-729.  Back to cited text no. 17    
18.Pachter HL, Spencer FC. Recent concepts in the treatment of hepatic trauma. Ann Surg 1979; 190:423-429.  Back to cited text no. 18    
19.Pachter HL, Spencer FC, Hofstetter SR, Coppa GF. Experience with the finger fracture technique to achieve intra-hepatic hemostasis in 75 patients with severe injuries of the liver. Ann Surg 1983; 197:771-778.  Back to cited text no. 19    
20.Pilcher DB. Penetrating injuries of the liver in Vietnam. Ann Surg 1969; 170:793-800.  Back to cited text no. 20    
21.Scher KS, Coil JA (Jr). Effects of oxidised cellulose and microfibrillar collagen on infection. Surgery 1982; 91:301-304.  Back to cited text no. 21    
22.Stone HH, Lamb JM. Use of pedicled omentuni as an autogenous pack for control of haemorrhage in major injuries of the liver. Surg Gyncecol & Obstet 1975; 141:92-94.  Back to cited text no. 22    
23.Svoboda JA, Peter ET, Dang CV, Parks SN, Ellyson JH. Severe liver trauma in the face of coagulopathy. A case for temporary packing and early reexploration. Apner J Surg 1982; 144:717-721.  Back to cited text no. 23    
24.Trunkey DD, Shires GT, MeClelland R. Management of liver trauma in 811 consecutive patients. Ann Surg 1974; 179:722-728.  Back to cited text no. 24    
25.von Kaulla KN, Kaye H, von Kaulla E, Marchioro TL, Starzl TE. Changes in blood coagulation. Before and after hepatectomy or transplantation in dogs and man. Arch Surg 1966; 92:71-79.  Back to cited text no. 25    
26.Walt AJ. The mythology of hepatic trauma or Babel revesited. Amer J Surg 1978; 135:12-18.   Back to cited text no. 26    

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