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Splenectomy

When you need to have your spleen removed, it's because you have had an injury or you have a disease. Regardless, you can trust our surgeons to provide the care you need. We'll help you get back to feeling like the best version of you.

Your spleen is a part of your immune system which filters bacteria from your bloodstream. It is key in fighting infections as well as removing damaged red blood cells from your bloodstream.

A splenectomy removes your entire spleen. This is most often done for injury which has caused uncontrollable bleeding. Or you may have a specific disease that has caused splenomegaly, or an enlarged spleen. Removal prevents your spleen from rupturing.

Depending on your situation, we might hospitalize you to watch for any bleeding. Any bleeding from your spleen needs prompt treatment. Sometimes the spleen will bleed a small amount and then stop on its own; in this case you may not need surgery. If the bleeding does not stop on its own, you may need to have surgery to remove the spleen. The doctor may try other methods, before surgery, to stop the bleeding. As a team, your doctor and a radiologist will inject a contrast dye into your arteries. They will watch to find the spot from which the bleeding is coming. They can then “clot off” that artery to stop the bleeding.

If you do need a splenectomy, it is because you have had trauma or injury and it will be an emergency open surgery. This allows us to check for other injuries inside your belly.

Splenic rupture/laceration

Blunt abdominal trauma, especially to your left abdominal side, can result in injury to your spleen. We see blunt spleen trauma in:

  • People who falls onto their left side
  • Those who receive a direct hit to the left side
  • Victims of car/ bike/ motorcycle accidents

Injury to the spleen can also be caused by broken ribs when they puncture or tear the spleen.

Rupturing of the spleen can sometimes can occur several days or weeks after the initial injury. This will cause severe pain in left upper abdomen

Ruptured or lacerated (torn) spleen is an emergency as it can cause a significant amount of blood loss. If you have pain in your belly after an injury, you should go to the Emergency Room immediately. We will likely use a CT scan of the abdomen to evaluate you for a spleen injury.

Surgery

During surgery, your spleen is gently pulled off the outer abdominal wall and the surrounding structures. We cut and tie off your spleen's arteries and the vein before removing entire spleen. Once we remove your spleen, we examine the the area to make sure there is no more bleeding. Then we suture, or stich, you incision closed to start your healing.

Risks

As with all surgeries, there are risks associated with treatment of your spleen. These can include: 

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to the intestines, stomach, or other surrounding organs
  • Need for further surgery or other procedures
  • Post-splenectomy sepsis (severe systemic infection) due certain bacterial infections

Recovery

After your surgery, we will use a CT scan of your abdomen to watch for healing or re-bleeding. You may be in the hospital for 2 - 7 days, or more. This depends on the degree of injury to your spleen, as well as other injuries that you may have.

We will request you not participate in any contact sports or activities that put you at risk. These activities include:

  • Biking
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Skateboarding
  • Horseback riding

The risk of falling and re-injuring your abdomen is too high. Your abdominal region and/or spleen needs at least 8 weeks to heal. Re-injury can cause much more severe bleeding and complications than the first injury. You and your doctor will discuss when you can resume your activities after a follow-up visit.

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