Partial splenectomy was performed on 30 patients with homozygous beta thalassaemia to reduce blood requirements and to avoid the risk of overwhelming postsplenectomy infections; 24 patients had thalassaemia major and six thalassaemia intermedia. Five patients received a high transfusion regimen before and after surgery and 25 a lower one. Follow up after surgery ranged from one to four years. Partial splenectomy improved the long term haematological state in the six patients with thalassaemia intermedia. Recurrence of hypersplenism occurred in nine of the 24 patients with thalassaemia major, however, and complete splenectomy was required. Serum IgM concentrations were not significantly modified by surgery. The mean (SD) residual spleen after surgery was 4.45 (2.36) cm measured by scintigraphy. No severe infections occurred after surgery; however, most patients were routinely treated with phenoxymethylpenicillin and the protective effect of the remaining spleen could not be exactly determined. Because of the possibility of recurrence of hypersplenism, routine partial splenectomy when splenectomy is needed in thalassaemia major is not advised, except in children under 5 years whose risk of overwhelming postsplenectomy infection is greatest.
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