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N Engl J Med. 1976 Oct 7;295(15):798-800.

Septicemia and meningitis in children splenectomized for hodgkin's disease.


Retrospective evaluation of the occurrence of septicemia and meningitis in 200 children who had staging laparotomy iwth splenectomy for Hodgkin's disease revealed 20 episodes occurring in 18 children. Symptoms were usually fulminant; only 10 of these patients survived their episode. Infections occurred eight days to three years after splenectomy. Adolescents, as well as younger children, were affected; half were older than 10 years of age. Leukopenia was not a major factor in onset or survival since the average white-cell count was 12,000 in both survivors and children who died. Pneumonococcus accounted for 50 per cent, and streptococcus for 15 per cent of infections; there was one episode each of Haemophilus influenzae and meningococcus; in 25 per cent, no organism was isolated. Predominance of penicillin-sensitive organisms and high mortality suggest that penicillin prophylaxis and the protection offered by bacterial vaccines should be evaluated in children with Hodgkin's disease whose staging laparotomy includes splenectomy.

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