The Impact of Splenectomy on Outcome After Resection for Colorectal Cancer: A Multicenter, Nested, Paired Cohort Study

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This study was designed to determine whether incidental splenectomy for iatrogenic injury affects long-term cancer-specific survival in patients having resection of an adenocarcinoma of the sigmoid or rectum.


A retrospective case-matched review of patients undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer with incidental splenectomy between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999 was undertaken. Data were analysed for age, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status, gender, disease stage, operation type, and outcome. These cases were matched with patients from the same center, of the same age and gender, with the same stage of disease and operation, who did not require a splenectomy at the time of their surgery.


Fifty-five patients were identified who had an iatrogenic splenectomy. Matched gender, stage, and American Society of Anesthesiologists-matched controls were identified. Follow-up from time of surgery to death or last follow-up ranged from 2 to 205 (median, 43) months. A Kaplan-Meier survival analysis using the Cox proportional hazards model to define the statistical significance found a significant difference between the groups favoring those without splenectomy (hazard ratio, 1.8; 95 percent confidence interval (CI), 1-3.3;P= 0.0399). Cancer-specific survival at five years was 70vs. 47 percent and at ten years was 55vs. 38 percent.


Patients with colorectal cancer who had splenectomy as a result of iatrogenic damage of the spleen while undergoing resection of the sigmoid or rectum for adenocarcinoma had a significantly worse prognosis.

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