Your spleen is a small organ, about the size of an average fist, and is located above your stomach on the left side under your rib cage. The spleen plays an important part in your body’s immune system by using white blood cells to fight against infections, by making red blood cells, and by filtering out old blood cells from your body. If your spleen is damaged due to a rupture caused by physical trauma, an injury, being enlarged, an infection, a blood disorder, or cancer, your doctor may determine that the spleen needs to be removed. When your spleen has been compromised because of illness or injury, it is a condition that needs to be corrected before the spleen fails to function or ruptures and jeopardizes your life.
Two Types of Splenectomy
A splenectomy generally takes an hour, and you will be given general anesthesia before the surgery so that you won’t feel any pain. While healing, you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities for 4 to 6 weeks. Your surgeon will advise you on when you can return to work or resume normal activities.
Laparoscopic Spleen Removal
A few small incisions are made in your abdomen. The laparoscope, a thin instrument with an attached camera, is inserted through one incision to let the surgeon see inside your body. Gas is used to inflate the abdomen and make room for the surgeon to work. Surgical instruments are inserted through the remaining incisions. The spleen’s blood vessels are cut and tied off so that the organ can be removed. Your incisions will be closed with stitches. You will remain in the hospital for 2 or 3 days.
Open Spleen Removal
One regular sized incision is made in the abdomen over your spleen. The surrounding skin and muscles are pulled back so that the spleen’s blood vessels can be cut and tied off. The spleen is then removed. The operation site will be cleaned, the muscles are closed with staples, and your skin is closed with stitches. You will remain in the hospital for 4 to 7 days.