The vital role of a normally-functioning spleen in a host's defence against circulating microorganisms has been realized for many years. The fulminant clinical course that characterizes infection with encapsulated microorganisms in asplenic patients is highlighted in these cases of severe pneumococcal sepsis in two patients, 10 and 13 years after splenectomies for idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. Approaches to the acute management of septic episodes and preventive measures are discussed. Pneumococcal vaccination reduces the incidece of infection effectively in asplenic patients and has a low complication rate. Penicillin by mouth is also efficacious in this situation, but patient compliance is low. Our current practice is to offer pneumococcal vaccination to all patients who have undergone splenectomy in the past and to administer the vaccine two weeks before elective splenectomies. Asplenic patients should be educated about the potential dangers of a septic episode and should be urged to seek an early medical consultation when this occurs.
|Number of pages||3|
|Journal||Medical Journal of Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 1988|