Background: Wandering spleen is a rare entity that may pose a surgical emergency following torsion of the splenic vessels, mainly because of a delayed diagnosis. Complications after surgery for wandering spleen may necessitate emergency treatment.
Objectives: To describe the clinical course and treatment for children who underwent emergency surgeries for wandering spleen at a tertiary pediatric medical center over a 21 year period and to indicate the pitfalls in diagnosis and treatment as reflected by our experience and in the literature.
Methods: The database of a tertiary pediatric medical center was searched retrospectively for all children who underwent emergency treatment for wandering spleen between 1996 and 2017. Data were collected from the medical files. The relevant literature was reviewed.
Results: Of ten patients who underwent surgery for wandering spleen during the study period, five underwent seven emergency surgeries. One patient underwent surgery immediately at initial presentation. In the other four, surgical treatment was delayed either due to misdiagnosis or for repeated imaging studies to confirm the diagnosis. Emergency laparotomy revealed an ischemic spleen in all patients; splenectomy was performed in two and the spleen was preserved in three. Four of the seven emergency operations were performed as the primary surgery and three were performed to treat complications.
Conclusions: Wandering spleen should ideally be treated on an elective or semi-elective basis. Surgical delays could be partially minimized by a high index of suspicion at diagnosis and by eliminating unnecessary and time-consuming repeated imaging studies.