We studied splenic function in children with cancer by quantitation of pitted, or pocked, erythrocytes (pocked RBC count), that is, the percentage of erythrocytes containing one or more membrane-bound vesicles, as determined by phase interference microscopy. The mean pocked RBC count in 93 normal children and adults was 0.49% (range 0% to 2.0%), with only 2.4% of normal subjects having values >1.5%. Mean pocked RBC count in 28 children after splenectomy was 37% (range 3.2% to 81%). Among 181 children with cancer (525 specimens), the mean pocked RBC count was 1.06% (range 0% to 12.6%). Fifty-nine (32%) patients had one or more values >1.5%, and 25 (13.8%) children had measurements >3.0%, a level previously suggested to have clinical significance. Elevated pocked RBC counts (>1.5%) occurred in more than one third of children with Wilms tumor and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and in both patients with juvenile chronic myelogenous leukemia. Elevations in pocked RBC counts were not related to specific chemotherapy regimens or to disease activity. Mild splenic reticuloendothelial hypofunction occurs in many children with cancer and may contribute to the risk of infection in these patients.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health