Author(s): Patrick G Gallagher
Disorders of the erythrocyte membrane, including hereditary spherocytosis, hereditary elliptocytosis, hereditary pyropoikilocytosis, and hereditary stomatocytosis, comprise an important group of inherited hemolytic anemias. These syndromes are characterized by marked clinical and laboratory heterogeneity. Recent molecular studies have revealed that there is also significant genetic heterogeneity in these disorders. This is particularly true for the spherocytosis syndromes where each kindred has a private mutation in one of the spherocytosis genes. Treatment with splenectomy is curative in most patients. Splenectomy via a laparoscopic approach has become the surgical method of choice. Growing recognition and understanding of the long-term risks and complications of splenectomy, including cardiovascular disease, thrombotic disorders, and pulmonary hypertension, and the emergence of penicillin-resistant pneumococci, a concern for infection in overwhelming postsplenectomy infection, have led to reevaluation of the role of splenectomy. Recent management guidelines acknowledge these important considerations when entertaining splenectomy and recommend detailed discussion between health care providers, patient, and family. Hemolytic anemias due to abnormalities of the erythrocyte membrane comprise an important group of inherited disorders. These include hereditary spherocytosis (HS), hereditary elliptocytosis (HE), hereditary pyropoikilocytosis (HPP), and the hereditary stomatocytosis (HSt) syndromes. These disorders are characterized by clinical and laboratory heterogeneity and, as evidenced by recent molecular studies, genetic heterogeneity.