Postoperative complications after splenectomy for hematologic malignancies.

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OBJECTIVE: The authors analyzed the frequency and character of postoperative complications after splenectomy in patients with hematologic malignancies, and correlated these findings with preoperative conditions that could have predicted their outcome. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Splenectomy is performed for hematologic malignancies for diagnostic and therapeutic indications. The role of splenectomy for lymphoproliferative and myeloproliferative malignancies is complex and sometimes controversial. METHODS: The medical records of 135 patients undergoing splenectomies for hematologic malignancies at Roswell Park Cancer Institute from January 1, 1984 to December 31, 1993 were reviewed retrospectively. These included Hodgkin's disease (HD), hairy cell leukemia (HCL), non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), and a miscellaneous group. RESULTS: The overall postoperative complication and mortality rates for all patients were 52% and 9%, respectively. The complication rate was 63% for patients whose spleens weighed greater than 2000 g, and 29% for patients whose spleens weighed less than 2000 g (p = 0.001). Seventy-three percent of the postoperative deaths were due to septic complications, only one of which was caused by an encapsulated organism. Complications occurred in less than 20% of patients with the diagnosis of HD and HCL; more than 50% of patients with NHL, CLL, and CML suffered postoperative complications. CONCLUSIONS: Splenectomy performed in patients with hematologic malignancies is a potentially morbid procedure. Splenic size was the only preoperative factor found to be predictive of postoperative complications. The complication rate differed significantly between the different diagnostic subgroups.

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