Treatment of the neutropenia of Felty syndrome

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This review sets out to synthesize and critically evaluate the current reported data regarding therapeutic options for the neutropenia associated with Felty syndrome (Felty neutropenia). A MEDLINE search and bibliographies from recent reviews were used to identify trials and case reports that provided sufficient data to evaluate the effect of various interventions on both the neutropenia and the clinical course of patients with Felty syndrome. Data were obtained on baseline hematologic profiles, bone-marrow biopsies, and patient characteristics; length of follow-up; hematologic and clinical responses to the various interventions; and side-effect profiles. Treatment with hemopoietic growth factors or methotrexate can produce sustained hematologic and clinical responses with an acceptable side-effect profile. Splenectomy produces a long-term hematologic response in 80% of patients. Patients who do not respond hematologically have a higher incidence of non-fatal infections, but a significant minority (46%) do not experience any infections; the incidence of fatal infections is 12%, regardless of whether a hematologic response occurs. Of the patients who had infections prior to surgery, 55% did not experience further infections after splenectomy. Initial treatment of Felty neutropenia should consist of hemopoietic growth factors because of their rapid onset of action and relatively low incidence of side-effects. Splenectomy is a reasonable option if growth factors are ineffective and rapid amelioration of neutropenia is needed. Methotrexate offers a potentially promising alternative for the treatment of both the rheumatologic and the hematologic manifestations of Felty syndrome.




Rashba, E. J., Rowe, J. M., & Packman, C. H. (1996). Treatment of the neutropenia of Felty syndrome. Blood Reviews, 10(3), 177–184.

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