Background This study aimed to evaluate whether laparoscopic splenectomy (Lap-Sp) contributes to the completion and curability of combined peginterferon and ribavirin (peg-IFN + RIB) therapy for cirrhotic patients with pancytopenia due to hypersplenism. Methods From December 2004 to September 2007, 21 patients underwent Lap-Sp before treatment with peg-IFN + RIB. All the patients were Child-Pugh class A or B with a mean platelet count of 5.7 × 10 4/mm3 and a mean leukocyte count of 2,830/mm3. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype was 1b for 18 patients and 2b for 3 patients. Of the 21 patients, 17 had a viral load exceeding 100 KIU/ml, and 4 had a load of less than 100 KIU/ml. Results All the patients underwent Lap-Sp without severe complications. The average hospital stay was 12.7 days (range, 6-23 days). Platelet counts increased from a mean of 5.7 ± 2.2 × 104/mm3 preoperatively to 19.6 ± 7.6 × 104/mm3 postoperatively and remained above 7.0 × 104/ mm3 during the subsequent peg-IFN + RIB therapy. The full course of therapy was completed for nine patients, with five obtaining a sustained virologic response and one obtaining a biologic response. The five patients who obtained a sustained virologic response had either HCV type 2b or 1b with a low viral load (<100 KIU). At this writing, treatment is ongoing for the remaining 12 patients. Conclusions Laparoscopic splenectomy allows patients with HCV cirrhosis and hypersplenism to receive full-dose peg-IFN + RIB therapy. Patients with HCV, genotype 2 or 1b and a low viral load, and hypersplenism may be good candidates for Lap-Sp.
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