Emergency Radiology - Original Article

Unidentified bright objects of spleen on arterial phase CT: mimicker of splenic vascular injury in blunt abdominal trauma


  • Naren Hemachandran
  • Shivanand Gamanagatti
  • Raju Sharma
  • Atin Kumar
  • Amit Gupta
  • Subodh Kumar

Received Date: 05.05.2020 Accepted Date: 28.06.2020 Diagn Interv Radiol 2021;27(4):497-503


We have described unidentified bright objects of spleen (UBOS), a hitherto undescribed entity, as hyperdense areas on arterial phase (AP) computed tomography (CT) seen in relation to splenic lacerations and are isodense to the normal parenchyma on portal venous phase with no correlate on digital subtraction angiography (DSA). UBOS mimic splenic vascular injuries like active contrast extravasation and pseudoaneurysm and need to be differentiated from them as it would have implications on patient management. We undertook this study to identify CT features of UBOS that can differentiate them from splenic vascular injuries and to calculate their diagnostic accuracy.


This retrospective study was approved by the institutional ethical committee and the need for informed consent was waived. Patients with splenic injury who had undergone dual-phase CT and DSA were included. All the lesions that were hyperdense on AP were evaluated for their outline, their relation to the adjacent/parallel margins of a laceration (margin sign), string of beads appearance, and the presence of adjacent normal parenchyma (adjacent parenchyma sign). The Hounsfield unit (HU) of the lesion and the aorta on the AP were also noted. The diagnostic accuracy of various signs for distinguishing UBOS from splenic vascular injuries was calculated using DSA as the reference standard.


Of 48 patients, 5 were excluded due to suboptimal quality of the examination or a time difference of more than 6 hours between the CT and DSA. A total of 54 hyperdense lesions were detected on AP in 43 patients. These were classified as vascular injuries (pseudoaneurysm, n=11; active contrast extravasation, n=11) and UBOS (n=32) based on DSA. The margin sign, string of beads appearance, and ill-defined outline had high specificity (95%, 86%, and 82%, respectively) but low sensitivity (50%, 65%, and 63%, respectively). The adjacent parenchyma sign had a moderate sensitivity and specificity of 84% and 77%, respectively. ROC analysis showed that a difference of 50 HU between the aorta and the lesion had a high sensitivity and specificity of 88.9% and 90.6%, respectively, with an area under the curve of 0.90.


An attenuation difference of over 50 HU between the aorta and the lesion and the presence of normal adjacent parenchyma had the highest diagnostic accuracy, while an ill-defined outline, string of beads appearance, and margin sign had high specificity but low sensitivity for differentiating UBOS from splenic vascular injuries.