Why is spleen removal surgery necessary for some people?
The spleen is an organ located near the stomach, at the upper left side of abdominal cavity. Its main purposes are to filter the blood and to fight infection causing viruses and bacteria. It is an important part of the body immune system. If, for some reason, the spleen becomes diseased or damaged, it will do more good to remove it than to keep it. Risk of keeping the diseased or damaged spleen in place is lesser than taking it out and suffering from infections more often than normal, which will happen when the spleen is removed. The spleen is removed by surgical procedure known as splenectomy, or spleen removal surgery.
How is the surgery done?
Spleen removal surgery is carried out while the patient is under general anesthesia. Spleen removal surgery can be done as an open surgery and as laparoscopic surgery. In the open procedure, a cut is made on the left side of the belly, below the ribs where the spleen is located and removed. If the patient is being treated for cancer, then the lymph nodes in the stomach will be examined and removed if necessary. Once the bleeding from the cut blood vessels is stopped, the incision is closed. In laparoscopic spleen removal, there are three to four very small incisions, just enough to insert the instruments. The operating field is viewed through the device known as a laparoscope, a flexible rod with a tiny camera and a light on the end. The patient's abdomen is filled with gas to make the work easier and the visibility better, as organs are tightly packed in the abdomen. This procedure has a faster recovery time than open field surgery, but not all patients are candidates. The surgeon will decide what type of procedure is best.
Risks for both types of procedures include injury to nearby organs, increased risk for infection after the surgery, collapsed lung or blood clots in the portal vein, which carries blood to the liver.
The hospital stay is usually under a week, and most patients are discharged after one or two days. After four to six weeks most patients are back to their normal regime.