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Splenomegaly Medication

  • Author: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
Updated: Apr 29, 2016

Medication Summary

The goals of pharmacotherapy in cases of splenomegaly are to reduce mortality and prevent complications. In the absence of a functional spleen, patients have a defect in bacterial clearance due to impaired opsonization. In particular, these patients are at risk for overwhelming postsplenectomy infection (OPSI) due to infection with encapsulated organisms such as Haemophilus influenzae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Streptococcus pneumoniae.[26]

As previously mentioned, all patients scheduled for elective splenectomy (either diagnostic or therapeutic) should receive a pneumococcal vaccine.


Vaccines, Inactivated, Bacterial

Class Summary

Vaccines aid in the generation of an anamnestic response to invasion with the target organism.

Pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax 23)


This vaccine contains capsular polysaccharides of 23 pneumococcal types that together account for 98% of pneumococcal disease isolates.

Meningitis group A C Y and W-135 vaccine (Menomune-A/C/Y/W-135)


This vaccine contains capsular polysaccharide antigens (groups A, C, Y, and W-135) of N meningitidis. It may be used to prevent and control outbreaks of serogroup C meningococcal disease, according to guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The vaccine induces the formation of bactericidal antibodies to meningococcal antigens. It is used for active immunization against invasive meningococcal disease caused by inclusive serogroups. The vaccine induces antibody response for serogroup A in individuals as young as 3 months, but it is poorly immunogenic for serogroup C in recipients younger than 18-24 months.

Haemophilus influenza type b conjugate vaccine (ActHIB, Hiberix, PedvaxHIB)


This vaccine is used for the routine immunization of children against invasive diseases caused by H influenzae type B. It decreases nasopharyngeal colonization. The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended that all children receive a conjugate vaccine licensed for infant use at age 2 months.


Antibiotics, Other

Class Summary

The diagnostic workup should never delay the use of empiric therapy. Empiric antimicrobial therapy must be comprehensive and should cover all likely pathogens in the context of the clinical setting.

Possible choices of empiric antimicrobial agents include cefotaxime and ceftriaxone. Unfortunately, some penicillin-resistant pneumococcal isolates are also resistant to cephalosporins. If such resistance is suggested, consider using vancomycin.

Cefotaxime (Claforan)


Cefotaxime (adult dose of 2 g IV q8h; pediatric dose of 25-50 mg/kg IV q6h) is a third-generation cephalosporin with excellent in vitro activity against GBS and E coli and other gram-negative enteric bacilli. It attains good concentrations in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Concern exists that emergence of drug-resistant gram-negative bacteria may occur at a more rapid rate with cefotaxime than with traditional penicillin and aminoglycoside coverage. Cefotaxime is ineffective against Listeria and enterococci; use it in combination with ampicillin.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin)


Ceftriaxone (adult dose of 2 g IV q12-24h; pediatric dose of 50 mg/kg IV q12h) is a third-generation cephalosporin with broad-spectrum gram-negative activity; it has lower efficacy against gram-positive organisms and higher efficacy against resistant organisms. Ceftriaxone arrests bacterial growth by binding to 1 or more penicillin-binding proteins.



Vancomycin is a bactericidal agent effective against most aerobic and anaerobic gram-positive cocci and bacilli. It is especially important in the treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and is recommended when coagulase-negative staphylococcal sepsis is suspected.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Cincinnati Medical Center; Hematology/Oncology Medical Director, West Chester Outpatient Clinics

Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H Professor, Internal Medicine and Pathology, Director, Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Ronald A Sacher, MB, BCh, FRCPC, DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Society for Clinical Pathology, American Society of Hematology, College of American Pathologists, International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, American Clinical and Climatological Association, International Society of Blood Transfusion

Disclosure: Serve(d) as a speaker or a member of a speakers bureau for: GSK Pharmaceuticals,Alexion,Johnson & Johnson Talecris,,Grifols<br/>Received honoraria from all the above companies for speaking and teaching.

Chief Editor

Emmanuel C Besa, MD Professor Emeritus, Department of Medicine, Division of Hematologic Malignancies and Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Kimmel Cancer Center, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University

Emmanuel C Besa, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Cancer Education, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American College of Clinical Pharmacology, American Federation for Medical Research, American Society of Hematology, New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Gina M Matacia-Murphy, MD Fellow in Hematology/Oncology, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Gina M Matacia-Murphy, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Clinical Oncology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Wadie F Bahou, MD Chief, Division of Hematology, Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Director, Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook

Wadie F Bahou, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Hematology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David Coffman, MD Fellow, Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Critical Care, Yale University School of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Marcel E Conrad, MD Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Retired), University of South Alabama College of Medicine

Marcel E Conrad, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Blood Banks, American Chemical Society, American College of Physicians, American Physiological Society, American Society for Clinical Investigation, American Society of Hematology, Association of American Physicians, Association of Military Surgeons of the US, International Society of Hematology, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, and Southwest Oncology Group

Disclosure: No financial interests None None

Emmanuel N Dessypris, MD Professor of Medicine, Medical College of Virginia; Chief, Medical Service, Hunter Holmes McGuire Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Emmanuel N Dessypris, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Physicians, American Society of Hematology, New York Academy of Sciences, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, and Southern Society for Clinical Investigation

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David J Draper, MD Fellow, Department of Hematology/Oncology, The University Hospital, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Lewis J Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCM, FCCP Director, SICU and Surgical Critical Care Fellowship, Associate Professor, Department of Surgery, Section of Trauma, Surgical Critical Care, and Surgical Emergencies, Yale University School of Medicine

Lewis J Kaplan, MD, FACS, FCCM, FCCP is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, American College of Surgeons, Association for Academic Surgery, Association for Surgical Education, Connecticut State Medical Society, Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma, International Trauma Anesthesia and Critical Care Society, Society for the Advancement of Blood Management, Society of Critical Care Medicine, and Surgical Infection Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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This patient has a splenic abscess due to pneumococcal bacteremia. Note that the massively enlarged spleen is readily visible, with minimal retraction in the left upper quadrant.
Resected specimen from the patient in the previous image. Note the discrete abscesses adjacent to normal parenchyma.
The margins of this massive spleen were palpated easily preoperatively. Medially, the 3.18 kg (7 lb) spleen crosses the midline. Inferiorly, it extends into the pelvis.
Massive splenomegaly does not preclude splenectomy through a minimally invasive approach. This photograph depicts a fragmented 3.2 kg (7.05 lb) spleen after removal via a hand-assisted laparoscopic technique.
A portion of a massive spleen is extracted via hand-assisted laparoscopy.
Intraoperative photograph of a laparoscopic splenectomy being taken down using the hanging-pedicle technique. The tip of the spleen is visualized in the background, whereas the stapler is detailed in the foreground across a segment of the pedicle.
A massive spleen that was removed from an elderly woman with lymphoma.
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