Infection Risk in Asplenia and Hyposplenism

It is estimated that up to 25,000 Australians are affected by asplenia or hyposplenism.1  Many are unaware of the fact, and its potential consequences.

The spleen plays an important role in immune function, in particular the prevention of infection due to some specific organisms (Table 1).

Infection Risk

Infection is a relatively common occurrence in those without a functioning spleen. Overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI), occurs in up to 5% of asplenic patients and has a mortality rate of over 50%. The risk is particularly high in children aged under five, and in the first three years post-splenectomy. However, the risk is lifelong.1

Organisms of Concern

Table 1:     Organisms of Concern

Agent Comment
Streptococcus pneumoniae Accounts for >50% of severe infections. Vaccine available and recommended
Neiserria meningitidis Vaccine available and recommended.
Haemophilus influenza type B Vaccine available and recommended.
Capnocytophagia species Oral ...
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