Spleens from 92 patients who underwent splenectomy for various indications were examined. These indications included hematologic disease in 38 patients and nonhematologic problems in 54. Of all the group foam cells were seen in hematoxylin and eosin (HE)-stained sections of spleens from 12 patients. This number increased to 21 (23%) when the diastase periodic acid-Schiff stain was used as a screening test. The cells in these 9 additional cases were too scanty to be observed on HE-stained sections alone. All the 21 spleens with positive foam cells were from patients with hematologic disease, specifically β-thalassemia major, hemoglobin S/β-thalassemia, hemoglobin AS, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. None of the spleens from the 54 nonhematologic patients showed foam cells. Factors that determine the probability of presence of foam cells were calculated. Also, certain differences in the staining reactions of foam cells were observed. The results of both, and the relation of these foam cells to the ‘syndrome of the sea-blue histiocyte’ are presented and discussed.

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