EAST Guidelines Update: Liver Injury

The Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma is in the process of updating their trauma practice guidelines for liver injury. The first set of guidelines was introduced in 2003, and several advances in management have occurred since. here is a summary of the current status of the guidelines:

Level I recommendations (best quality data): 

  • none

Level II recommendations (good data):

  • Initial management of hemodynamically stable patients should be nonoperative
  • CT of the abdomen with IV contrast is the most reliable method to assess severity of liver injury in the hemodynamically stable patient
  • Unstable patients should undergo operative or endovascular management of their injury, not imaging
  • Patients with peritonitis should go to the operating room
  • Age, grade of injury, amount of hemoperitoneum and age are not contraindications to nonoperative management. Only hemodynamic stability matters.
  • Angiography with embolization should be considered if a contrast blush is seen on CT
  • Angiography with embolization may also be considered if there is evidence of ongoing blood loss without blush on CT
  • Nonoperative management should only be considered if continuous monitoring and serial exams can be carried out at your hospital, and if an operating room is immediately available if needed

Level III recommendations (weak data):

  • Clinical status should dictate need and frequency of followup imaging (my interpretation: only do it if the patient condition changes for the worse)
  • Interventional modalities may be used to treat complications (ERCP, percutaneous drainage, laparoscopy, etc)
  • If a patient transiently responds to fluid initially, try angiography with embolization while they are still stable

On Monday, I’ll present the updated guidelines for management of spleen injury.

Reference: Trauma Practice Guideline Update, 24th Annual Scientic Assembly, Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, January 2011.

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