n South African Medical Journal - Role of splenectomy for immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) in the era of new second-line therapies and in the setting of a high prevalence of HIV-associated ITP : research




New agents are being used as second-line treatment for immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and have brought into question the relevance of splenectomy for steroid-resistant ITP.

We retrospectively analysed 73 patients who underwent splenectomy for ITP at our institution over an 11-year period. The median follow-up period was 25 months; patients with follow-up of < 1 month were excluded. The outcomes of splenectomy were compared in HIV-positive v. HIV-negative patients.
The rate of complete response was 83%, and response was sustained for at least 1 year or until latest follow-up in 80% of patients. Twelve patients were HIV-positive. Splenectomy was laparoscopic in 43 patients (62%) with an overall 16% complication rate. The 90-day mortality rate was 1.38%. There was no statistically significant difference in response or complication rate in the HIV-positive patients. There was a statistically significant (=0.017) poorer response to splenectomy in the patients with steroid-resistant ITP.
Splenectomy is effective and safe irrespective of HIV status and remains an appropriate second-line treatment for ITP. Further research is needed to corroborate our finding of lower response in patients who are steroid-resistant, as this might be a subgroup of patients who may benefit from thrombopoietin agonists as second-line therapy.


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