Purpose: To identify the imaging manifestations of splenic involvement in babesiosis, a potentially fatal tick-borne zoonosis with multi-organ involvement.
Methods: In our single center HIPAA compliant IRB-approved study, we performed a retrospective search of the electronic medical record at our institution to identify all patients with known or suspected acute babesiosis from 2000 to 2017. We then reviewed all abdominal imaging of patients with confirmed disease to identify incidence and characteristics of splenic involvement. Splenomegaly was determined using a height- and gender-adjusted reference.
Results: After exclusions, 63 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of babesiosis and contemporaneous imaging of the spleen were included in the final cohort. Within this cohort, 56 (89%) had splenomegaly at a minimum and 13 had splenic infarcts. Splenic rupture was present in eight patients with three having a pseudoaneurysm. In 14 patients with follow-up imaging, the spleen subsequently diminished in size. One additional patient with ruptured spleen underwent emergency splenectomy prior to imaging.
Conclusion: Although the literature suggests splenic involvement is a rare finding, acute parasitemia with babesiosis commonly affects the spleen. Recognition of this association can aid radiologists diagnosing splenic involvement in babesiosis and can lead to appropriate intervention in the minority with splenic hemorrhage.
Keywords: Babesiosis; Infectious disease; Spleen; Splenic rupture.