Overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI) is a serious disease that can progress from a mild flu-like illness to fulminant sepsis in a short time period. Although relatively rare, it has a high mortality rate with delayed or inadequate treatment, and therefore, it is important for Emergency Physicians to be familiar with it. Patients who are asplenic or hyposplenic are at an increased risk for infection and death from encapsulated organisms and other dangerous pathogens.
There is an abundance of literature discussing OPSI from the perspective of hematologists and infectious disease specialists, but an Emergency Medicine perspective is necessary to truly understand the acute nature of the disease. The objective of this article is to present a careful examination of the literature with a focus on early diagnosis and management to provide Emergency Physicians with the ability to positively affect outcomes of this deadly disease.
We present the case of a well-appearing 5-month-old girl with congenital asplenia who presented to the Emergency Department with fever, and rapidly progressed to septic shock as a result of OPSI. Aggressive resuscitation was initiated, including empiric antibiotics, and after a prolonged hospital course in the pediatric intensive care unit, the child recovered.
Rapid identification of patients at risk for OPSI, followed by administration of intravenous antibiotics, usually vancomycin and ceftriaxone, combined with early goal-directed therapy, are the keys to successful treatment. If initiated early in the patient's course, the 70% mortality rate can be reduced to the 10–40% range.
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Published online: June 25, 2012
Accepted: October 11, 2011
Received in revised form: June 17, 2011
Received: March 23, 2011
Published by Elsevier Inc.