Splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your spleen. The spleen is an organ that sits under your rib cage on the upper left side of your abdomen. It helps fight infection and filters unneeded material, such as old or damaged blood cells, from your blood.
The most common reason for splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen, which is often caused by an abdominal injury. Splenectomy may be used to treat other conditions, including an enlarged spleen that is causing discomfort (splenomegaly), some blood disorders, certain cancers, infection, and noncancerous cysts or tumors.
Splenectomy is most commonly performed using a tiny video camera and special surgical tools (laparoscopic splenectomy). With this type of surgery, you may be able to leave the hospital the same day and recover fully in two weeks.
Risks Of Splenectomy
Splenectomy is generally a safe procedure. But as with any surgery, splenectomy carries the potential risk of complications, including:
- Blood clots
- Injury to nearby organs, including your stomach, pancreas and colon
Long-term risk of infection
After spleen removal, you're more likely to contract serious or life-threatening infections. Your doctor may recommend that you receive vaccines against pneumonia, influenza, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and meningococci. He or she may also recommend that you take preventive antibiotics, especially if you have other conditions that increase your risk of serious infections.
How you prepare
1. Food and medications
Before your procedure, you may need to temporarily stop taking certain medications and supplements. You may also need to avoid eating or drinking for a certain amount of time. Your doctor will give you specific instructions to help you prepare.
2. Other precautions
If you have time before the surgery, you may need to receive blood transfusions to ensure that you have enough blood cells after your spleen is removed.
Your doctor may also recommend that you receive a pneumococcal vaccine and possibly other vaccines to help prevent infection after your spleen is removed.