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Spleen Removal: Reasons, Risks, and Recovery

What is the spleen? This is a fist-sized organ situated on the abdomen’s upper left side. It serves several functions in the body, including filtering the blood and keeping it flowing to the liver. It is an important part of the immune system; however, you can still survive without it. This is because the liver can perform some of the spleen’s functions.


Spleen Removal


Spleen removal surgery, known as splenectomy, is necessary to remove a damaged or diseased spleen. The procedure may involve either a laparoscopic splenectomy or an open splenectomy.


Reasons to Undergo a Splenectomy


You may need to undergo this procedure for several reasons. Lymphoma is one of the main reasons why patients undergo a splenectomy. Other cancers that may make this procedure necessary include hairy cell leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.


Also, spleen removal is an effective option for treating certain blood disorders. These include autoimmune hemolytic anemia and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. If you have an enlarged spleen, Dr. Thompson at Clarity Surgical and Weight Loss Solutions may need to perform a splenectomy to determine the cause or treat symptoms of early satiety and pain.

 

Spleen removal may be necessary if other treatments are unable to control bleeding from trauma. Another reason to undergo the procedure is the abscess of the spleen. However, this condition is very rare. The most common reason for spleen removal is to treat a ruptured spleen.


Risks

Spleen removal surgery is generally safe. As with any other type of surgical procedure, complications are possible. Some of these include infection, bleeding, injury to nearby organs, and blood clots.


A splenectomy also carries the long-term risk of serious infections. It is often requested that patients receive vaccines against influenza, pneumonia, meningococci, and Haemophilus influenza type-B prior to the procedure. They also recommend preventative antibiotics, especially if a patient has other conditions that can increase the risk of serious infections.


Before the procedure and then two months later, your doctor may order shots to boost your immune system. You will also need to take booster shots five years later and get your annual flu shot. If you develop an illness characterized by high fever, you need to contact your doctor immediately.


Recovery


With this laparoscopic procedure, discharge from the hospital usually happens within two or three days. With open splenectomy, however, this usually occurs within one week.


It usually takes between four and six weeks to recover from a splenectomy. Your doctor may ask you not to take baths for a while to allow your wounds to heal. Showers may be fine. Your doctor will tell you whether you need to avoid other activities while you recover, such as driving.


Living Without a Spleen


As stated earlier, you can survive without a spleen. However, living without it will increase your risk of developing infections, which can develop quickly and make you very ill. This is why it is important to call your doctor immediately if you experience any worrying symptoms.


To learn more about spleen removal, call Clarity Surgical and Weight Loss Solutions at our offices in Huntington Station or Rockville Center, New York at (516) 259-2525 with any questions.