Splenectomy (Removal of Spleen)
After splenectomy, patients are considered immunocompromised, and so should be placed on lifelong prophylactic oral antibiotics. Patients should also be vaccinated against common viral infections, and should receive annual influenza vaccinations.
Researchers are still learning about the health effects that stem from years of living with reduced or deficient globin proteins. An emerging realization is that removal of the spleen can cause an increase in the risk of life-threatening blood clots. Splenectomy is common for thalassemia patients because their red blood cells are crippled or dead, so the spleen has to work overtime and can become enlarged.
Researchers disagree on the degree of risk associated with splenectomy. A study by Dr. M. Domenica Cappellini, a co-author of this research, found that 30 percent of splenectomized thalassemia intermedia patients developed clots. However, a recent study of 8,860 splenectomized patients with thalassemia major and thalassemia intermediate found that the rate of thrombolytic events was 1.75 percent.
Surgical technique has played a role in developing clots (thrombosis). A recent study found that patients who underwent open splenectomy had a 19 percent chance of developing life-threatening clots, whereas patients who had laparoscopic surgery had a 55 percent chance.
Researchers are only now discovering why splenectomy leads to clots. Injury of endothelial cells may lead to a coagulation cascade, involving the activation of endothelial adhesion proteins, monocytes, granulocytes and platelets. Alternatively, the splenectomy might re
|Contact: Andrew Klein|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College