Pancreatic Trauma








Massive destruction of the pancreatic head




Minor contusion without injury




Major contusion without duct injury or tissue loss




Major laceration without duct injury or tissue loss




Proximal transection or parenchymal injury involving the ampulla



What is the most common pancreatic complication after surgical injury repair?


Retroperitoneal abscess



Stenosis of the pancreatic duct



Acute pancreatitis



Pancreatic fistula



Chronic pancreatitis



Answers: 1. a; 2. c; 3. e; 4. c; 5. d; 6: a

18.2 Introduction

  • Pancreatic trauma is uncommon.

  • Pancreatic injuries in adults occur nearly exclusively in severe polytrauma.

  • Source of significant morbidity and mortality.

  • Blunt pancreatic injury may be overlooked in patients with extensive multiorgan trauma.

  • Blunt pancreatic trauma occurs when high-energy force is applied to the upper abdomen, crushing the retroperitoneal structures against the vertebral bodies.

  • The pancreatic injuries secondary to blunt trauma have a spectrum from a minor contusion to complete transection.

18.3 Etiology

  • In adults about 60 % of pancreatic injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents and consequent impact with the steering wheel.

  • In children the most common mechanism is a direct blow to the epigastrium from bicycle handlebars.

  • In a stab wound, the weapon damages the pancreatic tissue along the tract of injury.

  • In a gunshot wound, the passage of the projectile and the associated pressure waves cause a wider area of injury.

    • Isolated pancreatic injuries are rare, because of the proximity of the pancreas to multiple important structures.

  • After blunt trauma, injuries of the pancreas are commonly associated with injuries of the:

    • Duodenum, liver, and spleen

  • After penetrating trauma, concomitant injuries of the:

    • Stomach, major vascular structures, liver, colon, spleen, kidney, and duodenum


  • The integrity of the main pancreatic duct is the most important determinant of outcome.

    • Associated morbidity after pancreatic injuries is 45 %.

    • If the treatment is delayed, it may increase to 60 %.

  • A delay in diagnosis of a pancreatic injury associated with duct disruption leads to:

    • Secondary infections, fistulas, fluid collections, and prolonged stays in the intensive care unit and hospital

18.4 Grading System: Organ Injury Scale (OIS)

Grade 1

  • Hematoma

    • Minor contusion without injury

  • Laceration

    • Superficial laceration without duct injury

Grade 2

  • Hematoma

    • Major contusion without duct injury or tissue loss

  • Laceration

    • Major laceration without duct injury or tissue loss

Grade 3


Fig. 18.1
Pancreatic fracture, macroscopic appearance. A 32-year-old male with history of blunt abdominal trauma. Intraoperative photograph shows a complete transection of the body of the pancreas (arrowheads). Note the separation of the pancreatic fragments

  • Laceration

    • Distal transection or parenchymal injury with duct injury

Grade 4

  • Laceration

    • Proximal transection or parenchymal injury involving the ampulla

Grade 5

  • Laceration

    • Massive destruction of the pancreatic head

Practical Pearl

  • Injuries of the pancreatic head are twice as likely to be fatal as those to the body and tail.

18.5 Clinical Diagnosis

  • In a patient with trauma from anterior-posterior force vector with deceleration and anterior truncal seat belt mark, the possibility of an aortic, small bowel, as well as pancreatic injury should be considered.

  • In penetrating abdominal trauma patients, pancreatic injury is more rapidly diagnosed.

  • While the immediate mortality of blunt pancreatic trauma might not be as high as with penetrating injury, diagnosis and management can present a challenge.

  • Isolated pancreatic injuries may present with few abnormal physical findings; early diagnosis may be delayed. Abdominal pain is the most common finding.

  • Most patients with penetrating abdominal trauma associated with hypotension, peritonitis, or evisceration proceed to the operating room without much diagnostic workup.

18.6 Laboratory Evaluation

  • Serum levels of amylase are neither sensitive nor specific for predicting an injury of the pancreas.

  • Up to 35 % of patients with complete transection of the main pancreatic duct may have normal serum amylase levels.

  • If the serum amylase level is abnormal and the patient is hemodynamically stable, further investigation with imaging studies is recommended.

18.7 Imaging

  • CT and ERCP are the preferred modalities to evaluate patients with suspected pancreatic injury.

  • The recommended CT phases to evaluate pancreatic injuries are the arterial (20–30 s) and portal (60–80 s) after the administration of intravenous contrast.

  • CT images should be reconstructed at 3 mm for interpretation, 1.5 mm for multiplanar reconstructions (MPRs), and with 3D post-processing.

18.7.1 Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography (CECT) (Figs. 18.218.13)


  • They are classified as indirect and direct signs.


    Fig. 18.2
    Pancreatic fracture secondary to blunt trauma. A 3-year-old male with history of child abuse. This child was struck in the abdomen 4 weeks prior by his mother’s boyfriend. This patient was complaining of abdominal discomfort and difficulty breathing. At physical examination a prominent abdomen was noted. Photograph of the patient (a) demonstrates a markedly distended abdomen. Supine plain abdominal film (b) demonstrates a large mass displacing the transverse colon inferiorly (arrows). CECT axial (cf) and coronal (g, h) images demonstrate a pancreatic fracture plane through the neck of the pancreas (eh) (arrowheads) associated with a very large pseudocyst (ch) (arrows). Additionally, note the presence of multiple lacerations in the right lobe of the liver (c, d, g, h) (curved arrows). Single-shot fast spin echo T2 weighted axial (i, j) and coronal (k, l) images confirm the presence of a pancreatic fracture (arrowheads) associated with a large pseudocyst (arrows) and the presence of hepatic lacerations. Patient was clinically stable, therefore managed conservatively. Under endoscopy guidance, two plastic stents were placed transgastrically in the large pseudocyst. Supine film of the abdomen (m) demonstrates the two stents placed endoscopically (arrows). Follow-up abdominal ultrasounds (not shown) showed significant decrease in size of the pseudocyst. Patient was discharged 3 weeks after his admission


    Fig. 18.3
    Pancreatic fracture secondary to blunt trauma on CT. A 19-year-old female with history of blunt abdominal trauma secondary to a motor vehicle accident. CECT axial (ac) and coronal (d) images reveal a fracture plane in the neck separating the body and tail of the pancreas (cd) (arrowheads) associated with liver lacerations (ab) (curved arrows) and multiple fluid collections in the lesser sac and both anterior pararenal spaces (ac) (arrows). Because the patient was hemodynamically unstable, she was taken to the OR where a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy was performed

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Apr 7, 2017 | Posted by in GENERAL RADIOLOGY | Comments Off on Pancreatic Trauma
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