Hypersplenism frequently accompanies cirrhosis with portal hypertension. In this series of 76 patients, 36 percent had thrombocytopenia, 41 percent had leukopenia, and 25 percent had both thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. However, hypersplenism was severe enough to necessitate splenectomy in only two patients (3 percent). Nonalcoholic cirrhotic patients exhibit hypersplenism more frequently and to a greater magnitude than do alcoholic cirrhotic patients. Fourteen and 44 percent of alcoholic and nonalcoholic cirrhotics, respectively, had both thrombocytopenia and leukopenia. Distal splenorenal shunts and nonselective shunts are equally effective in relieving preoperative hypersplenism. Approximately two thirds of the patients were relieved of thrombocytopenia or leukopenia after either of these procedures. Splenectomy invariably corrects hypersplenism associated with cirrhosis and should be included as part of the operative procedure in patients requiring surgery for control of variceal hemorrhage.
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