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Research Article

Return of splenic function after splenectomy: how much tissue is needed?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 289 doi: (Published 06 October 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;289:861
  1. G R Corazza,
  2. C Tarozzi,
  3. D Vaira,
  4. M Frisoni,
  5. G Gasbarrini


    Ninety patients whose spleen had been removed either because of trauma (41 cases) or as an elective procedure (49) were investigated for return of splenic function by counting pitted red cells and examining spleen scans made after injection of heat damaged 99mTc labelled red cells. There was no significant difference in the proportion of pitted red cells between the two groups of patients. Evidence of splenic tissue in scintiscans was not invariably associated with low pitted red cell values, suggesting that the presence of splenic tissue did not necessarily mean return of splenic function. In every patient whose proportion of pitted red cells was less than 16.2% the scintiscan showed splenic uptake. The proportion of patients with pitted red cell values below 16.2% was significantly higher in the group operated on for trauma, and it is concluded that this was due to splenosis. A high inverse correlation between pitted red cell counts and computed splenic volumes was found. Patients with pitted red cell values of less than 16.2% had computed volumes of 22-133 cm3; below this range the proportion of pitted red cells rose very sharply. These results confirm that splenosis occurs in adults, though less often than in children, and suggest that when splenic tissue is to be implanted a graft of at least 20-30 cm3 is needed to ensure satisfactory return of splenic function.