Splenectomy during pregnancy: treatment of refractory immune thrombocytopenic purpura

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Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) complicates 1–2/10 000 pregnancies and accounts for 5% of cases of pregnancy-associated thrombocytopenia. Corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin remain the first-line therapy in pregnancy, and a majority of pregnant women respond to this conventional therapy. Other cytotoxic and immunosuppressive agents used for treatment in non-pregnant patients, for example, danazol, cyclophosphamide, vinca alkaloids and azathioprine, are potential teratogens and cannot be administered during pregnancy. For pregnant women with ITP who fail to respond to medical management and are at a significant risk of haemorrhage due to thrombocytopenia, splenectomy may be considered as an option. We report two cases of splenectomy during pregnancy for refractory ITP. In one patient, it was carried out at 24 weeks, and in the second patient it was carried out during the caesarean section. Splenectomy as a second-line option in cases of refractory severe ITP in pregnancy is discussed.

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