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24.01.2018 | Original Article

Selective nonoperative management of liver gunshot injuries

European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Pradeep Navsaria, Andrew Nicol, Jake Krige, Sorin Edu, Sharfuddin Chowdhury



Nonoperative management (NOM) of gunshot liver injuries (GLI) is infrequently practiced. The aim of this study was to assess the safety of selective NOM of GLI.


A prospective, protocol-driven study, which included patients with GLI admitted to a level 1 trauma center, was conducted over a 52-month period. Stable patients without peritonism or sustained hypotension with right-sided thoracoabdominal (RTA) and right upper quadrant (RUQ), penetrating wounds with or without localized RUQ tenderness, underwent contrasted abdominal CT scan to determine the trajectory and organ injury. Patients with established liver and/or kidney injuries, without the evidence of hollow viscus injury, were observed with serial clinical examinations. Outcome parameters included the need for delayed laparotomy, complications, the length of hospital stay and survival.


During the study period, 54 (28.3%) patients of a cohort of 191 patients with GLI were selected for NOM of hemodynamic stability, the absence of peritonism and CT imaging. The average Revised Trauma Score (RTS) and Injury Severity Score (ISS) were 7.841 and 25 (range 4–50), respectively. 21 (39%) patients had simple (Grades I and II) and 33 (61%) patients sustained complex (Grades III to V) liver injuries. Accompanying injuries included 12 (22.2%) kidney, 43 (79.6%) diaphragm, 20 (37.0%) pulmonary contusion, 38 (70.4%) hemothoraces, and 24 (44.4%) rib fractures. Three patients required delayed laparotomy resulting in an overall success of NOM of 94.4%. Complications included: liver abscess (1), biliary fistula (5), intrahepatic A-V fistula (1) and hospital-acquired pneumonia (3). The overall median hospital stay was 6 (IQR 4–11) days, with no deaths.


The NOM of carefully selected patients with GLI is safe and associated with minimal morbidity.

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