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J Athl Train. 1995 Oct-Dec; 30(4): 324–326.
PMCID: PMC1318002

Liver Laceration in an Intercollegiate Football Player

Richard Ray, EdD, ATC
Richard Ray is Head Athletic Trainer and Associate Professor of Kinesiology at Hope College, Holland, MI 49423.


Serious abdominal injuries in athletics, including liver trauma, are relatively rare. When they do occur, the athletic trainer and the team physician must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms and employ the appropriate first aid and follow-up care. In this paper, we present a case study of a football player who suffered a lacerated liver as a result of a forceful blow to the right side of the chest. Although his case was typical of most isolated liver injuries and he did not experience massive internal bleeding, the potential for life-threatening exsanguination exists and must be recognized by by sports health care practitioners. Most isolated liver injuries can be treated nonsurgically. However, those patients with multiple organ trauma, deteriorating vital signs, or diminishing hemodynamic stability generally require immediate surgery. Athletes with persistent right upper quadrant pain, especially when accompanied by referred pain to the right shoulder, abdominal rigidity, guarding, or rebound pain should be considered to have a liver injury until ruled out by CT scan and liver enzyme studies. Our subject was typical of most athletic liver patients and he was able to resume light exercise after 5 weeks and full activity after 3 months.

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Selected References

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