Spleen removal is surgery to remove a diseased or damaged spleen. This surgery is called splenectomy.
The spleen is in the upper part of the belly, on the left side underneath the ribcage. The spleen helps the body fight germs and infections. It also helps filter the blood.
Splenectomy; Laparoscopic splenectomy; Spleen removal - laparoscopic
The spleen is removed while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free). The surgeon may do either an open splenectomy or a laparoscopic splenectomy.
During open spleen removal:
During laparoscopic spleen removal:
With laparoscopic surgery, recovery is often faster and less painful than with open surgery. Talk to your surgeon about which type of surgery is right for you or your child.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
Conditions that may require spleen removal include:
Risks for anesthesia and surgery in general are:
Risks for this surgery include:
Risks are the same for both open and laparoscopic spleen removal.
Before the Procedure
You or your child will have many visits with health care providers and several tests before surgery. You may have:
If you smoke, you should try to stop. Smoking increases your risk for problems such as slow healing. Ask your provider for help quitting.
Tell the provider:
During the week before surgery:
On the day of surgery:
After the Procedure
You or your child will spend less than a week in the hospital. The hospital stay may be only 1 or 2 days after a laparoscopic splenectomy. Healing will likely take 4 to 6 weeks.
The outcome of this surgery depends on what disease or injuries you or your child has. People who do not have other severe injuries or medical problems often recover after this surgery.
After the spleen is removed, a person is more likely to develop infections. Talk with provider about getting needed vaccinations, particularly the yearly flu vaccine. Children may need to take antibiotics to prevent infections. Most adults do not need antibiotics long-term.
Brandow AM, Camitta BM. Hyposplenism, splenic trauma, and splenectomy. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 514.
Mier F, Hunter JG. Laparoscopic splenectomy. In: Cameron JL, Cameron AM, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 12th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:1505-1509.
Poulose BK, Holzman MD. The spleen. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 56.
Review Date: 3/12/2019
Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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