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You may need a splenectomy (spleen removal) surgery due to illness or injury. The spleen is an important part of your immune system but you can live without it.
The spleen’s main functions are to filter old and damaged red blood cells from your blood, and to produce lymphocytes (special white blood cells) that fight infections.
The main reasons for having an elective (non-emergency) splenectomy are associated with problems with your blood.
A splenectomy may also be recommended because of problems that can cause your spleen to get bigger.
A splenectomy can help to control your symptoms and, if your spleen has got bigger, will remove the life-threatening risk of your spleen rupturing.
If you have a problem with your blood, it is possible to have drug treatment to cure or manage the problem.
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes between one and two hours.
Your surgeon will remove the spleen either by using the laparoscopic (‘keyhole’) technique or by an open cut in the upper abdomen or under the right ribcage.
General complications of any operation:
Specific complications of this operation:
a. Laparoscopic complications
b. Splenectomy complications
You should be able to go home within a day or two after laparoscopic surgery, and between five and seven days after open surgery.
You should be able to return to work after three to four weeks but this may vary depending on the extent of surgery and your type of work.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
Without a spleen you are more likely to get life-threatening infections. You will need to take antibiotics and be immunised regularly for a number of years.
An elective splenectomy is usually recommended for certain problems with your blood and to remove the life-threatening risk of your spleen rupturing.
Elective splenectomy costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own procedure the cost will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the procedure. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.Acknowledgements Author: Mr Ian Beckingham DM FRCS and Mr Irfan Ahmed FCPS FRCS Copyright © 2010 Nucleus Medical Art. This information is produced by EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by BMI Healthcare. You may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information other than for your personal, non-commercial use. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.