Splenectomy for immune thrombocytopenic purpura: surgery for the 21st century.
Although immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) is the most common autoimmune hematological disorder, there is still controversy regarding the optimal management of this condition. Medical therapy may cure a proportion of patients with ITP but there are still a significant number of these individuals who are at risk for bleeding events. Surgery has become the least popular therapeutic option for ITP as other medical therapies have become available that attempt to avoid splenectomy and its morbidity. However, the clinical response to these therapies has not been overwhelming based on the fairly small number of trials conducted to date. With current minimally invasive surgical techniques, splenectomy should be again regarded as a viable therapeutic option in patients with ITP. The laparoscopic approach avoids much of the morbidity and complications seen with the conventional open surgical approach and studies have demonstrated similar, if not better, outcomes. In addition, the risk of infection following splenectomy is not as high as may be suspected, particularly with current vaccination regiments. It should be a priority for both the hematology and medical community to advocate for clinical trials to rationally study alternatives to splenectomy. In the interim, laparoscopic splenectomy should be considered as an additional front line therapeutic option in ITP patients.
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