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The value of prophylactic vaccinations and antibiotic treatment in post-splenectomy patients: a review

Authors Lammers J

Received 13 April 2012

Accepted for publication 21 May 2012

Published 28 June 2012 Volume 2012:4 Pages 19—24


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

AJ Jolanda Lammers

Department of Infectious diseases, Tropical Medicine and AIDS, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract: Although spleen preservation surgery and non-operative management are first-line treatment options, total splenectomy is frequently performed. Splenectomy is performed for a number of indications including idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, high-energetic trauma, and hematological malignancy. Following splenectomy, patients are at risk for overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI), a syndrome that presents with mild symptoms at onset but irreversible multi-organ-failure occurs within hours to days. Since the spleen plays an important role in the immune response to polysaccharide antigens, encapsulated bacteria such as pneumococci are the most frequently described causative organisms of OPSI. Although the incidence of OPSI is low, the associated mortality is reported to be as high as 80%. Because of the overwhelming and frequently irreversible nature of this syndrome, prophylactic measures to prevent OPSI have been recommended. These recommendations include vaccination, use of antibiotics, and continuous patient education. After splenectomy, patients should receive immunizations against the encapsulated bacteria S. pneumoniae, H. influenza, and N. meningitidis. Antibiotic therapy should include prophylaxis as well as “on-demand” antibiotics when infection is suspected. Importantly, patients should receive ongoing education regarding the risks associated with asplenia and precautions to take when infection occurs and when traveling.

Keywords: S. pneumoniae, sepsis, splenectomy, vaccination

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