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Importance of vaccination for disease prevention in post-splenectomy patients


A fit middle aged man presented to the emergency department with headache, myalgia, vomiting, fever and rigours. He was hypotensive with mottled peripheries, tachycardic and dyspnoeic. The only significant medical history noted was an emergency splenectomy 30 years previously following a road traffic accident. The patient had been on prophylactic antibiotics initially and was vaccinated in line with recommendations at the time following splenectomy with no significant health issues in the intervening years. The patient was treated empirically for septic shock and meningitis based on presentation and admitted to the intensive care unit for pressor support and subsequently required intubation and ventilation. Investigations revealed bilateral pneumonia. Streptococcal pneumoniae urinary antigen and serum S. pneumoniae PCR were positive supporting a diagnosis of invasive pneumococcal infection. A lumbar puncture was negative for meningitis. Distal mottling affecting all limbs progressed with resultant bilateral upper limb digit and below knee amputation. The patient subsequently required extensive rehabilitation. Following a prolonged tertiary and rehabilitation hospital admission, the patient made an exceptional recovery and was discharged home with ongoing appropriate support and home adaptation.

  • infectious diseases
  • vaccination/immunisation
  • adult intensive care
  • rehabilitation medicine
  • surgery

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