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.
Copyright 2001 The British Infection Society.