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Abstract

Hypersplenism is of great relevance in the management of cirrhosis because of the widespread use of myelodepressant drugs such as interferon or antineoplastic agents. Because no standard therapy exists for this complication, we have evaluated the efficacy and risks of splenic embolization in the treatment of hypersplenism in cirrhosis. Partial splenic embolization was performed in 40 consecutive patients with the following indications: 25 patients with active viral cirrhosis before interferon therapy, 8 patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma before antineoplastic chemotherapy and 7 patients with thrombocytopenia associated with spontaneous bleeding events, with high risk of central nervous system hemorrhage or facing major surgery. After selective catheterization of the splenic artery, partial splenic embolization was performed by means of repeated injections of gelatin sponge until a 40% to 60% reduction in the splenic blood flow was achieved. After partial splenic embolization a significant and sustained increase in platelet and white blood cell count was observed during the follow-up period (mean = 13.9 ± 2.2 mo; range = 1 to 36 mo). The goal of partial splenic embolization was achieved in all but two patients in whom a dose reduction of interferon was needed. Hypersplenism relapsed in only seven patients, and all of them exhibited an embolization of less than 50% of the splenic mass. Postembolization syndrome was the main side effect, but no life-threatening complications were detected. In conclusion, partial splenic embolization is a safe and effective therapy of hypersplenism in cirrhosis. (HEPATOLOGY 1993;18:309–314).