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Spleen removal

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Spleen removal (splenectomy) is surgery to remove a diseased or damaged spleen. This organ is in the upper part of your belly, on the left side underneath the rib cage.

The spleen helps your body fight germs and infections. It also helps filter your blood.

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Description
The spleen is removed while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free). Your surgeon may do either an open splenectomy or a laparoscopic splenectomy.

In an open spleen removal: For laparoscopic spleen removal:
Why the Procedure is Performed
Some conditions that may require spleen removal are:
Risks
Risks for any surgery are: The risks or problems that may occur during or soon after this surgery are: Risks are the same for both open and laparoscopic spleen removal.

Before the Procedure
You will have many visits with your doctor and several tests before you have surgery. Some of these are: If you smoke, you should stop several weeks before this surgery. Spleen removal is major surgery, and smoking will increase your risks of problems.

Always tell your doctor or nurse: During the week before your surgery: On the day of your surgery:
After the Procedure
You or your child will spend less than a week in the hospital. Your hospital stay may be only 1 or 2 days after a laparoscopic splenectomy. You should heal in 4 to 6 weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)
The outcome of this surgery varies depending on what disease or injuries you have. People who do not have other severe injuries or medical problems usually recover after this surgery.

After your spleen is removed, you are more likely to develop infections. Talk with your doctor about getting needed vaccinations. Children especially may need to take antibiotic drugs to prevent infections. Most adults do not need antibiotics long-term.

Everyone who has had a splenectomy will need to get a flu vaccine every year.

Alternative Names
Splenectomy; Laparoscopic splenectomy; Spleen removal - laparoscopic

References
Shelton J, Holzman MD. The spleen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery . 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 57.

Brandow AM, Camitta BC. Hyposplenism, splenic trauma, and splenectomy. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW III, et al., eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 481.

Update Date: 1/29/2013
John A. Daller, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Crozer-Chester Medical Center, Chester, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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