Splenectomy is associated with altered leukocyte kinetics after severe trauma

Michel Paul Johan Teuben*, Arne Hollman, Taco Blokhuis, Roman Pfeifer, Roy Spijkerman, Henrik Teuber, Hans Christoph Pape, Luke Petrus Hendrikus Leenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Inadequate activation of the innate immune system after trauma can lead to severe complications such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome. The spleen is thought to modulate the cellular immune system. Furthermore, splenectomy is associated with improved outcome in severely injured trauma patients. We hypothesized that a splenectomy alters the cellular immune response in polytrauma. Methods: All adult patients with an ISS ≥ 16 and suffering from splenic or hepatic injuries were selected from our prospective trauma database. Absolute leukocyte numbers in peripheral blood were measured. White blood cell kinetics during the first 14 days were compared between splenectomized patients, patients treated surgically for liver trauma and nonoperatively treated individuals. Results: A total of 129 patients with a mean ISS of 29 were included. Admission characteristics and leukocyte numbers were similar in all groups, except for slightly impaired hemodynamic status in patients with operatively treated liver injuries. On admission, leukocytosis occurred in all groups. During the first 24 h, leukopenia developed gradually, although significantly faster in the operatively treated patients. Thereafter, leukocyte levels normalized in all nonoperatively treated cases whereas leukocytosis persisted in operatively treated patients. This effect was significantly more prominent in splenectomized patients than all other conditions. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that surgery for intra-abdominal injuries is associated with an early drop in leucocyte numbers in peripheral blood. Moreover, splenectomy in severely injured patients is associated with an altered cellular immune response reflected by a persistent state of prominent leukocytosis after trauma.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalEuropean Journal of Medical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Inflammation
  • Leukocytes
  • Spleen
  • Splenectomy
  • Trauma


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