• Splenectomy for ITP in Children

    Why is the spleen important in ITP?

    • The spleen plays an important role in immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) because cells in the spleen called B-lymphocytes produce antibodies that attach to platelets.
    • These antibody-covered platelets are then removed from the circulation by the spleen.

    When would splenectomy be considered as a treatment option for ITP?

    • Splenectomy may be considered for severe or long-lasting cases of ITP that have not responded to other treatment options.
    • The decision to perform a splenectomy is based on the severity of the ITP and the life style of the individual patient.

    Who is eligible for splenectomy?

    • In general, patients older than 5 years of age who have had ITP for more than 1-3 years (depending on the individual and the physician) may be candidates for splenectomy.
    • In severe cases, where the platelet counts remain severely low and do not improve with medication, splenectomy may be recommended soon after the disease is diagnosed.

    What are the medical issues associated with splenectomy?

    • About 75% of children with severe ITP are cured with splenectomy, but since it is considered major surgery, there is some risk during and after the operation.
    • Special immunizations (shots) are required before splenectomy.
    • Following surgery, a child will need to take a daily dose of penicillin, since there is an increased risk of developing a blood infection after splenectomy.
    • Once the spleen has been removed, patients should notify their physicians immediately if they develop a fever.
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