Background: Laparoscopic splenectomy is the procedure of choice for elective splenectomy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Although the literature clearly documents the technical feasibility and safety of laparoscopic splenectomy, little data exists concerning the results of this procedure based on the hematologic indication for splenectomy. We sought to examine the clinical experience with laparoscopic splenectomy in a single institution, with particular attention to morbidity and clinical outcomes based on hematologic disease process.
Methods: This study retrospectively reviewed a consecutive series of laparoscopic splenectomies performed for nontraumatic, splenic pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation from August 1995 to January 2001. Patient demographics, operative indications, morbidity, mortality, and clinical outcome were evaluated. Hematologic diagnostic groups were compared using Fisher's exact tests and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests.
Results: A total of 147 laparoscopic splenectomies were performed. Seven patients (5%) required conversion to open splenectomy. Indications for splenectomy included idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in 65 patients, hematologic malignancy in 43 patients, autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) in 9 patients, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) in 9 patients, splenomegaly in 5 patients, splenic cyst in 4 patients, splenic abscess in 3 patients, hereditary spherocytosis in 2 patients, splenic artery aneurysm in 2 patients, Felty's syndrome in 1 patient, myelofibrosis in 1 patient, and other in 3 patients. Accessory spleens were identified in 20 patients (14%). Postoperative complications occurred in 23 (16%) patients. Patients with ITP had significantly shorter operation times (134 vs 163 min; p = 0.001), decreased estimated blood loss (126 vs 307 ml; p = 0.001), decreased length of hospital stay (2.8 vs 4.6 days; p < 0.001), and less chance of conversion (0 vs 7; p = 0.02) than patients with any other diagnosis. A mean follow-up period of 20 +/- 14 months showed an 85% rate of remission for ITP, 89% for TTP, and 89% for AIHA. Patients with malignant disease had significantly larger spleens (822 vs 313 g; p < 0.001), more estimated blood loss (380 vs 168 ml; p = 0.04), and longer operative times (170 vs 142 min; p = 0.009), as compared patients treated for benign disease. However, the length of hospital stay (4.3 vs 3.6 days; p = 0.06) and complication rates (19% vs 14%; p = 0.08) were not significantly different between the two groups.
Conclusions: When performed for ITP, laparoscopic splenectomy resulted in shorter operations, minimal blood loss, earlier discharge, no conversions, and excellent remission rates, as compared with other hematologic indications. Despite larger spleens, more blood loss, and longer operations in patients with hematologic malignancies, morbidity and length of hospital stay still were similar to those associated with benign indications for laparoscopic splenectomy. In conclusion, laparoscopic splenectomy is safe and efficacious for a multitude of benign and malignant hematologic indications, and our data compares favorably to those for open series.