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Randomized clinical trial of splenic radiofrequency ablation versus splenectomy for severe hypersplenism

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Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a relatively new treatment for hypersplenism. The results of a randomized clinical trial comparing RFA and splenectomy with 5 years of follow‐up are reported.


Fifty‐seven patients with hypersplenism due to liver cirrhosis were assigned randomly (in a 1 : 2 ratio) to splenectomy (19 patients) or RFA (38). The RFA group was subdivided according to the percentage of the spleen ablated: less than 50 per cent (9 patients), 50–70 per cent (18) or over 70 per cent (11). Routine blood tests were performed before and after operation, and total spleen volume and ablated volume were measured by contrast‐enhanced computed tomography. The primary endpoint of the trial was recurrence of hypersplenism, assessed as platelet and white cell counts, at 5 years after surgery.


White cell and platelet counts increased rapidly after intervention in both groups. By 36 months after operation peripheral platelet and white cell counts had decreased significantly in the RFA group compared with the splenectomy group, and declined to baseline levels by 48 months. Hypersplenism recurred after 6 months in patients with less than 50 per cent of the spleen ablated. Blood cell count in the splenectomy group and in patients with more than 50 per cent of the spleen ablated decreased with time after operation, but to levels that remained significantly higher than those before operation (P < 0·050). Splenic volume reached its nadir 12 months after RFA and then increased with time.


Splenic RFA represents an attractive alternative treatment for hypersplenism induced by liver cirrhosis, particularly when more than 50 per cent of the spleen is ablated. Copyright © 2010 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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