Other Condition| Volume 54, ISSUE 7, P1445-1448, July 2019

Incidence and risk factors for sepsis after childhood splenectomy



      Children who have undergone splenectomy may develop impaired immunologic function and heightened risk of overwhelming postsplenectomy infection. We sought to define the long-term rate of and risk factors for postsplenectomy sepsis.


      We leveraged the Military Health System Data Repository, a nationally representative claims database including >3 million children registered as dependents of members of the United States Armed Services (2005–2014). Inclusion criterion was splenectomy at age 18 years or prior. The primary outcome was hospitalization for sepsis.


      Among 195 children who underwent splenectomy, 7% (n = 13) were hospitalized with sepsis, with an incidence of 1.8 (95% CI = 1.0-3.1) events per 100 person-years. The median time to sepsis was 224 days (IQR = 109–606) and 38% (5/13) of events occurred within the first postsplenectomy year. The postsplenectomy mortality rate was 1% (n = 3). After adjusting for underlying diagnosis, older age at splenectomy (HR = 0.90 per year, 95% CI = 0.81–0.99) was associated with decreased hazard of sepsis.


      In a contemporary national cohort, the prevalence of postsplenectomy sepsis was 7% (1.8 events per 100 person-years). Although most presented during the first year after splenectomy, many (62%) sepsis events occurred later, suggesting that postsplenectomy immunologic dysfunction persists beyond one year. The immunologic consequences of asplenia must continue to be acknowledged, as postsplenectomy sepsis remains a serious concern.

      Type of Study

      Prognosis study.

      Level of Evidence

      Level III.

      Key words

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