Spleen surgery or splenectomy is a surgery performed to remove the spleen, either partially or totally, being useful in this way to treat problems that affect the spleen, when it is damaged or diseased.
The spleen is an organ that is located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen (left hypochondrium), below the rib cage. The spleen’s functions include helping to filter the blood (filtering unnecessary materials like aged and damaged blood cells), as well as helping fight infections and germs.
When is spleen surgery necessary
There are a number of reasons why the spleen may need to be removed. Conditions for which a splenectomy is performed include the following:
- Trauma to the spleen: Spleen rupture is the most common reason for spleen surgery, which is often caused by external trauma to the abdominal area.
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), causing symptoms such as discomfort, pain, and a feeling of fullness.
- Blood disorders: spleen surgery treats hematological diseases such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, polycythemia vera and thalassemia. In the case of these conditions, splenectomy is performed only when other treatments have not been effective to reduce its symptoms.
- Cancer: spleen surgery can treat several types of cancer, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and hairy cell leukemia.
- Infections in the spleen: in the case of a severe infection or abscess (large collection of pus surrounded by inflammation) in the spleen, it may need to be removed if other treatments are not effective.
- Non-cancerous cysts or tumors in the spleen, if they reach a certain size or if they are difficult to remove completely, they may require a splenectomy.
Types of spleen surgery
Spleen surgery is performed using two different techniques: open splenectomy (more traditional technique) and laparoscopic splenectomy (minimally invasive). In both cases, the surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
For open splenectomy, the surgeon makes an incision in the center or on the left side of the abdomen, below the ribs, and separates the muscles and other tissues to expose the spleen for easy removal. Once removed, the incision is closed with sutures and staples.
On the other hand, through laparoscopic surgery of the spleen, the surgeon makes four small incisions in the abdomen, so that through one of these a device called a laparoscope is inserted, which has a small camera that allows the surgeon to see the structures inside the abdomen. Other special surgical instruments used to remove the spleen are inserted through the other three incisions. Once removed, the 4 small incisions are closed using sutures and staples.
Whether one method or another is used will depend on which is the case. In the case of surgery due to a ruptured spleen or trauma, open surgery is generally used. The surgeon is also more likely to decide to use open surgery the larger the size of the patient’s spleen. In cases where laparoscopic splenectomy is possible, it has the advantage that, as the incisions made are smaller, recovery is much faster and less painful for the patient.
After surgery, the patient usually remains hospitalized for less than a week, this hospitalization time being usually only between 1 and 2 days in the case of laparoscopic surgery. In any case, the total recovery time with either of the two surgical techniques is between 4 and 6 weeks approximately.
Finally, people who have had their spleen removed (splenectomized) should be aware that they have a higher risk of infection, as well as greater difficulty in recovering from illness or injury. For this reason, those who have had their spleens removed are often recommended to get vaccinated against pneumonia, flu, Haemophilus influenzae type B, and meningococcus C and B.
Spleen surgery at Vithas Xanit Internacional
If you need a specialist in spleen surgery, at Vithas Xanit Internacional we put the best professionals at your disposal, who together with the latest technology and surgical techniques allow us to offer you the best care and the best possible results in our treatments and surgeries. Contact us for more information or make an appointment.