Splenic microabscesses in the immune-compromised patient

Robyn M. Hatley, James S. Donaldson, John G. Raffensperger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Four immune-compromised children who were receiving antineoplastic chemotherapy (three for leukemia), presented with recurrent episodes of fever and left upper abdominal pain. Blood cultures grew enteric gram-negative organisms in three children. Multiple blood cultures were negative for fungus although three patients had mucocutaneous and urinary candidiasis. All remained febrile and symptomatic despite treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics and antifungal chemotherapy. Computed tomography (CT) scans in all patients showed 2- to 10-mm focal defects in the spleen. The larger defects could be seen by ultrasonography but not on the liver-spleen nuclear scan. A splenectomy was performed 2 to 4 weeks after the onset of symptoms in each child, and the cut surface of the spleens showed multiple small abscesses. All operative cultures were negative. A histological examination confirmed Candida infection in two patients and Aspergillus in one. Necrotizing granulomas strongly suggestive of fungus were seen in the fourth child. The patients defervesced and appeared well within three days. Antifungal therapy was continued. One child remains in remission from acute lymphocytic leukemia; one continues on chemotherapy; and one has recurrent widespread tumor. The patient with Aspergillus died following a bone marrow transplantation 6 months after the splenectomy. He had disseminated aspergillosis. An immune-compromised patient with persistent unexplained fever should have a CT scan of the abdomen. The presence of multiple splenic lesions strongly suggests fungal disease. If antifungal therapy does not result in complete resolution of fever and the splenic lesions, a splenectomy is indicated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-699
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989


  • Fungal abscess, spleen
  • immune-compromised patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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