Nonparasitic splenic cysts in children: Current status

Surgeon. 2011 Feb;9(1):49-53. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2010.08.005.


Background: at present, the management of nonparasitic splenic (NPS) cysts in children is not well described in literature. The aim of this study was to evaluate the current status of NPS cysts in the world literature and develop some higher level of evidence in the management of this disease entity. In this study, we have also included our experience with NPS cysts.

Methods: a systematic study of NPS cysts published in the English literature, between the periods of 1989-2008, was performed. The data were analyzed with respect to the type of cysts, mode of presentation, patient's demography, management modalities and complications. Data were quoted as median and range. Categorical data were analyzed using Chi(2) tests. P value ≤ 0.05 was considered as significant. All children, who presented to us with NPS cysts during the last 20 years, were reviewed and followed up till December 2009.

Results: after critical review of 249 abstracts, 25 studies (retrospective 13, cases reports 11 and prospective study 1) were finally included in this project. This included a total of 166 patients. The types of cysts were congenital (82%), traumatic (15%) and hamartomatous (3%). Male to female ratio was one to one. Median age of presentation was 11 years. Abdominal pain was the main complaint in 46% cases. Forty seven percent of the cysts were diagnosed incidentally. History of trauma was present in 11% cases. 1% cases were operated on due to the rupture of the cysts. Open procedures were performed in 60% cases [11% (total splenectomy), 29% (partial splenectomy) and 20% (cystectomy)]. Laparoscopic procedures were performed in the rest 40% cases [2% (total splenectomy), 4% (partial splenectomy) and 34% (cystectomy/partial decapsulation/unroofing)]. Median follow up period was 24 months (range 3-96 months). Recurrences were seen in only 2% of open procedures as Opposed to 41% in laparoscopic procedures (P<0.0001). Looking at the laparoscopic procedures individually, all the recurrences were seen in patients who had had cystectomy/partial decapsulation/unroofing. We treated 7 children (4 males and 3 females), who had a median age of 11 years (range 1-14 years); two of whom presented with large cysts having a diameter of 25 cm and 15 cm, respectively. They underwent open partial splenectomy without recurrence. The other five children had small cysts having a diameter of <5cm and they were asymptomatic. Presently, the children with small cysts are being followed up conservatively, with no concerns so far.

Conclusions: congenital cysts are the most common NPS cysts in children. About half of the cysts are diagnosed incidentally. For bigger cysts, either open or laparoscopic partial splenectomy is the procedure of choice. Laparoscopic-cystectomy/partial decapsulation/unroofing procedures have unacceptably higher recurrence rates and hence should not be recommended. Smaller cysts (< 5 cm diameter) can be treated conservatively with regular ultrasound follow up, but if they become symptomatic or progress in size, surgical intervention is indicated.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cysts* / diagnosis
  • Cysts* / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Laparoscopy
  • Male
  • Splenectomy
  • Splenic Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Splenic Diseases* / therapy