Author(s): Leone G, Pizzigallo E, Leone G, Pizzigallo E
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Abstract Splenectomy, while often necessary in otherwise healthy patients after major trauma, finds its primary indication for patients with underlying malignant or nonmalignant hematologic diseases. Indications of splenectomy for hematologic diseases have been reducing in the last few years, due to improved diagnostic and therapeutic tools. In high-income countries, there is a clear decrease over calendar time in the incidence of all indication splenectomy except nonmalignant hematologic diseases. However, splenectomy, even if with different modalities including laparoscopic splenectomy and partial splenectomy, continue to be a current surgical practice both in nonmalignant hematologic diseases, such as Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA), Congenital Hemolytic Anemia such as Spherocytosis, Sickle Cell Anemia and Thalassemia and Malignant Hematological Disease, such as lymphoma. Today millions of people in the world are splenectomized. Splenectomy, independently of its cause, induces an early and late increase in the incidence of venous thromboembolism and infections. Infections remain the most dangerous complication of splenectomy. After splenectomy, the levels of antibody are preserved but there is a loss of memory B cells against pneumococcus and tetanus, and the loss of marginal zone monocytes deputed to immunological defense from capsulated bacteria. Commonly, the infections strictly correlated to the absence of the spleen or a decreased or absent splenic function are due to encapsulated bacteria that are the most virulent pathogens in this set of patients. Vaccination with polysaccharide and conjugate vaccines again Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Neisseria meningitidis should be performed before the splenectomy. This practice reduces but does not eliminate the occurrence of overwhelming infections due to capsulated bacteria. At present, most of infections found in splenectomized patients are due to Gram-negative (G-) bacteria. The underlying disease is the most important factor in determining the frequency and severity of infections. So, splenectomy for malignant diseases has the major risk of infections.
This article was published in Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis
and referenced in Journal of Blood & Lymph