Background: Although partial splenic embolization (PSE) has been proposed in patients with cirrhosis in cases when thrombocytopenia or neutropenia may cause clinical manifestations or if there are contra-indications to other therapeutic procedures, there are limited data on long-term outcome. We provide a retrospective review of results and the tolerance of all PSE procedures in patients with cirrhosis in our department.
Patients and methods: Thirty-two consecutive patients with cirrhosis were included over a 6 year period. Indications for PSE were as follows: (1) severe cytopenia preventing necessary antiviral treatment (n=14), percutaneous destruction of hepatocellular carcinoma (n=8) or major surgery (n=3), severe purpura (n=3); (2) painful splenomegaly (n=4). After superselective catheterization, embolization was performed with up to 50% reduction of splenic blood flow.
Results: Thrombocyte and leucocyte counts increased markedly (185% and 51% at 1 month; 95% and 30% at 6 months). Thirty-one and 20 patients had platelet count >80,000/mm3 at months 1 and 6 vs only one before PSE. Overall, the aim of PSE was achieved in 27 patients (84%) (planned treatment: 20/25; disappearance of purpura and splenic pain: 7/7). Severe complications occurred in five patients (16%): transient ascites (n=2), splenic and/or portal vein thrombosis (n=2) that resolved after anticoagulation therapy, and splenic abscess (n=2) leading to death. These two patients had splenic necrosis >70%.
Conclusion: In patients with cirrhosis, PSE may resolve cytopenia and the clinical complications related to hypersplenism or splenomegaly. However, due to a high risk of severe complications, particularly splenic abscess, the indications of PSE should be very limited and the extent of necrosis should be strictly controlled during the PSE procedure.