Objective: To evaluate the impact of the sequence of treatment with rituximab and/or splenectomy on time to relapse for patients with steroid-refractory immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Patients and Methods: Patients 18 years or older with steroid-refractory immune thrombocytopenia who underwent treatment with splenectomy or rituximab from January 1, 2002, through December 31, 2015, at Mayo Clinic. Evaluation included freedom from relapse (FFR) and response rates after treatment with rituximab or splenectomy as single or sequential interventions. Results: A total of 218 eligible patients with ITP who were treated according to standard of care were included in this analysis. Patients failing steroids treated with splenectomy had a higher 5-year FFR than did those treated with rituximab (67.4% vs 19.2%; P<.001, propensity-score matched). Patients who failed splenectomy and were then treated with rituximab had a 2-year FFR similar to that of patients who failed rituximab and were then treated with splenectomy (73.4% vs 59.9%; P=.52). Patients treated with rituximab after splenectomy had a longer 2-year FFR than did patients treated with rituximab as a second-line treatment (73.4% vs 29.0%; P<.001). Conclusion: For patients with ITP that relapse after treatment with steroids, splenectomy provides longer FFR than rituximab as a second-line therapy. Among patients who fail second-line treatment with splenectomy or rituximab, those who end up receiving sequential splenectomy-rituximab or rituximab-splenectomy therapy seem to derive similar benefit in the long term. Patients who received rituximab after splenectomy seem to derive superior benefit than do those who are treated with rituximab with an intact spleen.
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