Massive splenomegaly (MS) (>1500 grams) is a rare and overtly symptomatic manifestation of myelofibrosis. While splenectomy may provide palliation, the procedure may be technically difficult and lead to high operative risks. We retrospectively analyzed myelofibrosis patients who underwent splenectomy for MS to analyze complications and outcomes.
Retrospective chart review of all patients with myelofibrosis at our institution who underwent splenectomy for MS between 1998 and 2006 was performed. MS was defined as post-operative spleen weight measured to be more than 1500 grams. A total of 63 patients with MS had splenectomy for palliation of pressure symptoms or transfusion requiring cytopenias during that time period. Kaplan Meier statistics and log rank test were used for survival analysis.
Mean age of the study patients was 64.9 ± 9.5 years and 56% of those were males. Commonest pre-splenectomy symptoms were left upper quadrant abdominal discomfort (85.7%), fatigue (81%), early satiety (76.2%), anorexia (54%) and weight loss (39.7%). Packed red blood cell and platelet transfusions were required pre-operatively in 36/63 (57.1%) and 10/63 (15.9%) of patients, respectively. Median spleen weight was 2805 (range 1540 – 13085) grams. Perioperative complications occurred in 15 patients (23.8%) including infection (= 4 patients [6.3 %]), thrombosis (= 6 patients [9.5%]), or bleeding (= 9 patients [14.3%]), 2 of which (3.2% of all patients) were fatal.
Median post-splenectomy survival (PSS) of these patients was 16.4 (0–110) months and 5 year PSS was 20%. Excluding patients lost to follow up, 43/55 (78.2%), 33/55 (60%) and 26/54 (48.1%) patients were alive at 6 months, 1 year and 2 years after splenectomy, respectively. At 1 year, out of 33 alive patients, 24 (72.7%) patients had relief of pressure symptoms. Out of 36 patients who were red cell transfusion dependent pre-splenectomy, 13 were alive and 6/13 (46.2%) patients were transfusion independent at 1 year. Similarly, out for 10 patients requiring platelet transfusions pre-operatively, 5 were alive and 3/5 (60%) were transfusion independent after 1 year follow up.
PSS after splenectomy for MS was decreased in patients that required pre-operative packed red cell transfusions (median 9.3 months vs. 32.1 months, p= 0.033) (Fig 1), but not affected by other factors including age (>64 years), pre-operative thrombocytopenia (<100 × 109/uL), prolonged operative time (>90 minutes) or larger spleen size (>2800 grams).
Splenectomy is relatively safe and effective palliative treatment for pressure related symptoms and refractory cytopenias related to MS in patients with myelofibrosis. Pre-operative anemia requiring red cell transfusions may predict advanced disease and is associated with inferior PSS.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.