The spleen is an organ that can be found in the upper part of the abdomen, on the lower left side of the rib cage. It helps the body fight infections and diseases from germs while effectively filtering the blood.
Reasons for Splenectomy
In some cases, the spleen is damaged and must be surgically removed. A splenectomy may be performed if the organ is observed to have a cyst, abscess or thrombosis (blood clot in its blood vessels). It might also be recommended for patients with liver cirrhosis, blood cell disorders, hypersplenism, Hodgkin’s disease lymphoma, leukemia, tumors in the spleen, and splenic artery aneurysm.
Standard or Laparoscopic Splenectomy
Patients may have a choice between a standard splenectomy or minimally invasive laparoscopic splenectomy.
During a standard splenectomy, lymph nodes on the patient’s abdomen may also be examined and removed. Alternatively, laparoscopic surgery leaves much smaller scars. The surgeon makes small incisions and inserts instruments with light and a camera inside the patient. These tools will be used to remove the spleen. One advantage of this procedure is a faster recovery. The patient would also feel less pain compared to an open surgery; however, laparoscopic splenectomy may not be recommended for all patients.
Risks of Splenectomy Surgery
Risks and complications may be infrequent, but they do sometimes occur. Blood clots on the air passages of the lungs can cause breathing problems. Some patients suffer from infections in the lungs, bladder or kidney. Post-surgical risks include blood clots of the liver’s portal vein, collapsed lungs, hernia, more infections, accumulation of pus under the diaphragm, and injury to other organs.
How to Minimize the Risk of Surgery
To reduce the chances of such complications, it is imperative that patients go through a series of medical and physical exams that will help doctors determine the right kind of surgery to perform. You may be required to take several immunizations prior to surgery, including meningococcal vaccines, flu shots, and pneumococcal. Blood tests may also be performed to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. Having the results of those tests will be crucial if you need a blood transfusion during the operation.
Remember to stay on a liquid diet prior to the surgery to rid the body of free radicals. On the same note, smokers should abstain for at least two weeks before and after the splenectomy. Spleen removal is a major operation and toxins may further increase the risks.
The best way to minimize risks is to find an experienced surgeon you can trust. The physicians of Bay Surgical Specialists are recognized for excellence in their field. They have the skill and training to perform a splenectomy that minimizes risk and discomfort.