Risk of infection and death among post-splenectomy patients

J Infect. 2001 Oct;43(3):182-6. doi: 10.1053/jinf.2001.0904.


Objectives: The true incidence of post-splenectomy sepsis remains undetermined.

Methods: An English literature review on post-splenectomy sepsis was undertaken by means of databases of MEDLINE for the period 1966-96. The data registered included age at splenectomy, indication for splenectomy, incidence of infection and death, interval between splenectomy and infection, and microbial aetiology.

Results: The reports include 19 680 patients having undergone splenectomy with a median follow up of 6.9 years. The incidence of infection after splenectomy was 3.2% and the mortality rate was 1.4%. Only 6942 reports were sufficiently detailed to allow useful analysis. The incidence of infection among children and adults was similar, 3.3% and 3.2%, respectively. However, the death rates among children were higher than adults (1.7% vs. 1.3%). The incidence of infection was highest among patients with thalassemia major (8.2%), and sickle-cell anaemia (7.3%). The highest mortality rates were observed among patients with thalassaemia major (5.1%), and sickle-cell anaemia (4.8%).

Conclusion: The incidence of sepsis among post-splenectomy patients is low, however, it carries a high mortality rate especially among children with hematological disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / surgery
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis / microbiology*
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Splenectomy*
  • Thalassemia / surgery