Splenectomy

(Spleen Removal; Removal, Spleen)

Definition

Splenectomy is the surgical removal of the spleen. The spleen is an organ in the upper left part of the abdomen. It is beneath the ribs and behind the stomach. The spleen filters blood to remove bacteria, parasites, and other organisms that can cause infection. It removes old and damaged blood cells. It can also produce red blood cells and certain types of white blood cells.
Spleen
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Reasons for Procedure

You may need to be treated by having a splenectomy if you have:
  • Trauma to the spleen
  • Splenic rupture due to tumor, infection, inflammatory condition, or medications
  • Enlargement of the spleen—splenomegaly
  • Certain blood disorders when other treatments are not working, including:
    • Sickle cell anemia
    • Idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura
    • Hereditary spherocytosis
    • Thalassemia
    • Hemolytic anemia
    • Hereditary elliptocytosis
  • Some types of leukemia or lymphoma
  • Tumor or abscess in the spleen
  • Liver disease (cirrhosis)
  • Abnormal formation of fibrous tissue in the bone marrow
  • Damage in the blood vessels of the spleen
  • Diseased spleen, due to disorders like HIV infection

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Hernia formation at incision site
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to other organs
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Poor nutrition
  • Recent or chronic illness
  • Advanced age
  • Heart or lung disease
  • Bleeding or clotting disorders

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