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      Spontaneous Rupture of Malarial Spleen: Report of Two Cases


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          Malaria is endemic in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including Saudi Arabia. The infection has serious consequences in those residing in non endemic regions on travelling to endemic areas, due to lack of immunity to the parasite. In this report, we describe the clinical course of two patients who travelled to a malaria endemic area. Both contracted the infection and presented with splenic rupture. They received splenectomy in addition to the appropriate antimalarial medications, with successful outcome.

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          Prevention and management of infections in patients without a spleen.

          Patients who lack a functioning spleen become vulnerable to sepsis caused by bacteria and, occasionally, protozoa. The risk is higher in children and in those who have had immunosuppressive treatment, and the risk remains lifelong. Overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) occurs at an estimated incidence of 0.23-0.42% per year, with a lifetime risk of 5%. Episodes of OPSI are emergencies, requiring immediate parental antibiotics and intensive care; intravenous immunoglobulins may be useful. OPSI carries a mortality of 38-69%. Streptococcus pneumoniae is the commonest infecting organism, accounting for 50-90% of isolates from blood cultures in reported series; it is particularly common in children with sickle cell disease. Less commonly, the infecting organisms are other bacteria, Babesia or Ehrlichia. OPSI may be, to some extent, preventable by several interventions. These are surgical conservation of the spleen; immunization against S. pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Neisseria meningitidis; prophylactic antibiotics; stand-by antibiotics; patient information sheets; and a medical alert bracelet. Asplenic patients living in malaria-endemic areas require optimal prophylaxis. The initial step in prevention of OPSI is the creation of an asplenia register, as many patients are not covered by these simple measures.
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            Pathological rupture of the spleen in malaria: analysis of 55 cases (1958-2008).

            Splenic rupture during acute malaria is rare but underreported. Because splenic rupture occurs mostly in non-immune adults, ongoing malaria elimination efforts may paradoxically increase the proportion of Plasmodium-infected patients suffering from this life-threatening complication. The pathogenesis and optimal patient management are still debated. We collected and analysed reports of pathological rupture of the spleen associated with malaria published over the last 50 years in five languages. Fifty-five cases were reported, due to Plasmodium falciparum (n=26), Plasmodium vivax (n=23), Plasmodium ovale (n=2), Plasmodium malariae (n=2), or P. vivax-falciparum (n=2), and occurred in travellers (n=24), locals (n=21), expatriates (n=6) or migrants (n=4). Median age was 31.5 years and sex ratio M/F 3.2. Splenic rupture was complete with hemoperitoneum (n=50), or partial (n=5). Death occurred in 12 patients (22%), 8 of whom from early irreversible collapse (n=7) or unexpected death (n=1). Death rate was higher among travellers than in other patients (9/24, 38%, versus 3/31, 10%, p=0.01). Clinical features of P. falciparum- or P. vivax-associated splenic rupture were strikingly similar. Treatment included in-hospital medical observation without surgery (conservative management, n=14), immediate splenectomy (n=29), delayed splenectomy (n=4), or none (patients dying at admission, n=8). The type of treatment, conservative or not, had no influence on prognosis. The median duration of malaria symptoms before diagnosis was longer in our review (5-6 days) than in previous reports on imported malaria (3-4 days), suggesting that early diagnosis and therapy of malaria may reduce the incidence of splenic rupture. Abdominal pain, collapse, or fainting is warning symptoms. Fourteen published observations support conservative management in carefully selected patients. Spleen preservation likely reduces the risk of future severe malaria attacks in patients with potential further exposition to Plasmodium sp., and also that of overwhelming sepsis in all.
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              Splenic complications in malaria: case report and review.

              Clinicians are increasingly confronted with diagnosis and management of malarial complications. In nonfalciparum malaria, severe complications usually involve the spleen, most notably among them the condition termed spontaneous splenic rupture. A case of infection due to Plasmodium malariae resulting in a symptomatic splenic hematoma is presented. Malarial splenic enlargement and pathology are reviewed, as well as splenic complications such as spontaneous rupture, hematoma, hyperreactive malarial syndrome, hypersplenism, ectopic spleen, torsion, and formation of cysts. Also evaluated are the 11 reported cases of spontaneous splenic rupture in malaria in the English-language literature from 1960 to 1991. Most cases of spontaneous splenic rupture in malaria occur during acute infection and are associated with Plasmodium vivax. Lack of prior immunity to malaria appears to be a major predisposing factor. Increasingly, splenic complications are managed by supportive care and spleen-conserving procedures to avoid postoperative and asplenic morbidity.

                Author and article information

                Mediterr J Hematol Infect Dis
                Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases
                Mediterranean Journal of Hematology and Infectious Diseases
                Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
                13 December 2010
                : 2
                : 3
                : e2010036
                [1 ]Department of surgery and
                [2 ]Medicine-The Military Hospital, Southern Region-Khamis Mushait-Saudi Arabia
                Author notes
                Correspondence to: M Ezzedien Rabie, Department of surgery, The military hospital, southern region, Khamis Mushait-Saudi Arabia. P O Box 101. E mail: ezzedien@ 123456hotmail.com

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 14 October 2010
                : 25 November 2010
                Case Report

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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