Postsplenectomy course in homozygous sickle cell disease.


OBJECTIVE: To determine whether children with homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease and splenectomy are at greater risk of death, overwhelming septicemia, or other complications. METHODS: A total of 130 patients with SS treated by splenectomy (46 recurrent acute splenic sequestration, 84 chronic hypersplenism) over a 22.5-year period at the Sickle Cell Clinic of the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, were compared with a control group matched for sex, age, and duration of follow-up in a retrospective review. Deaths and bacteremias were examined over the whole study period. Painful crises, acute chest syndromes, and febrile episodes were compared in the 90 patients completing 5 years of postsplenectomy follow-up. FINDINGS: Mortality and bacteremic episodes did not differ between the splenectomy and control groups. Painful crises were more common in the splenectomy group than in the control group (P =.01) but did not differ between splenectomy indications. Acute chest syndrome was more common in the splenectomy group than in the control group (P <.01) and was more common in the acute splenic sequestration group than in the hypersplenism group (P =.01). Febrile events did not differ between the groups or between the indications for splenectomy. CONCLUSION: Splenectomy does not increase the risk of death or bacteremic illness in patients with SS disease and, if otherwise indicated, should not be deferred for these reasons.

The Journal of pediatrics