Post-splenectomy response in adult patients with immune thrombocytopenic purpura

Asian J Transfus Sci. 2009 Jan;3(1):6-9. doi: 10.4103/0973-6247.45255.


Splenectomy has been the conventional surgical treatment for patients with Immune Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).

Aim: To define response to surgical therapy, pre operative factors influencing outcome and tolerability of surgery in adult patients undergoing splenectomy for ITP.

Method: We analyzed prospectively maintained data of 33 patients who were diagnosed as ITP and underwent splenectomy over the last 10 years. The age, presenting complaints, bleeding manifestations, clinical details and other investigations were noted. Details of immediate pre-operative administration of blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and other forms of therapy were also recorded. Operative details with regards to blood loss and the presence of accessory spleens were obtained. Postoperative course in terms of clinical improvement, rates of complications and platelet counts was also noted.

Results: Skin petechiae and menorhhagia were common presenting symptoms in patients (mean age 26.5+/-10.5 yrs) with ITP. Eighteen patients underwent splenectomy for failure of therapy and fifteen for relapse on medical treatment. Mean platelet bags transfused in immediate pre-operative period were 2.8+/-0.8. Mean intra-operative blood loss was 205+/-70.5 ml. Accessory spleens were removed in 1 case (3.03%). The immediate postoperative response was complete in 19 cases (57.58%) and partial in 13 cases (39.39%). The platelet counts increased significantly from 23142+/-12680/ microL (Microliter) (mean +/- SD) preoperatively to 170000+/-66000/microL (Microliter) within 24-48 hours after splenectomy (P < 0.05). The mean platelet count was 165000+66000/microL (Microliter) at the end of one month when steroids were tapered off gradually. Four patients (12.12%) had complications (one each of wound hematoma, wound infection, splenic fossa collection and upper GI hemorrhage) in postoperative period but all responded to therapy. One relapsed patient was detected with accessory spleen and responded after re-surgery. Response to splenectomy was better in young patients and in those patients who had higher immediate post-splenectomy thrombocytosis.

Conclusions: Splenectomy is safe and effective therapy in ITP patients with no response to steroids and relapse after medical therapy. Response to splenectomy was more in young patients and in those patients who had higher immediate post-splenectomy thrombocytosis.

Keywords: Idiopathic purpura; surgical therapy.