Patients with functional or anatomic asplenia are at a significantly increased risk of overwhelming infection, particularly involving the encapsulated bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. The risk is highest in infants and young children, but adults also have an increased risk of infection.
Preventive strategies are very important and fall into three major categories: immunoprophylaxis, antibiotic prophylaxis and education. Studies have shown that many asplenic patients are unaware of their increased risk for serious infection and the appropriate health precautions that should be undertaken. In this article we emphasise the need for preventive measures in hyposplenic and asplenic patients. We discuss the value of newly developed conjugate vaccines and the need for revaccination. Finally we draw up a recommendation for the preventive management in functional and anatomical asplenic patients.