Side Effects of Spleen Removal

Side Effects of Spleen Removal

After a spleen removal surgery, patients have to make a lot of adjustments to cope up with its side effects. Read this article to know about the complications associated with the removal of a spleen.
HealthHearty Staff
The spleen is a dark red colored, oval-shaped organ located at the left side of the abdominal cavity in between the stomach and diaphragm. It is responsible for carrying out some of the most vital functions of our body. It's function is to eliminate disease-causing organisms from the blood, thus, helping our body fight infections. It also filters out all the old and damaged red blood cells from the blood. If there is a spleen problem and it starts destroying more than the required amount of red blood cells or there is a rupture in it for some reason, then the doctors opt for removing the spleen.

Spleen Removal Surgery

➜ The surgical method of spleen removal is known as splenectomy. There are two different techniques used for this surgery. One is the open splenectomy and the other one is laparoscopic splenectomy. Both are conducted under general anesthesia.

➜ In open splenectomy, surgeons make a surgical incision on the left side of the abdominal cavity of the patient, remove the spleen, and close the opened incision.

➜ On the other hand, laparoscopic splenectomy is a less invasive surgery. It is carried out using a special surgical instrument called laparoscope that consists of a small camera and light at the end.

➜ For laparoscopic surgery, only 3 or 4 very small incisions are made below the ribs and the instrument is inserted through one of them. Other necessary instruments are inserted through the other cuts and the surgery is performed.

➜ The camera and light fitted with laparoscope enables the surgeon to see the site of operation. Most surgeons prefer laparoscopic splenectomy over open surgery because of its several advantages.

➜ Post the surgery, patients need not stay in the hospital for a long time (hardly 1 or 2 days), whereas for an open surgery, patients have to stay in the hospital for 4 - 6 weeks. Moreover, the risk of excessive blood loss is quite less as it involves only minor incisions.

Some Side Effects

➜ Blood loss is a risk associated with any major surgery and splenectomy is no exception. However, out here, the risk of excessive blood loss is higher because the spleen acts like a blood reservoir of the body.

➜ It is likely to happen if the spleen ruptures during the course of the surgery. The spleen's function in the immune system is to store almost one-third of the total blood platelets of the human body.

➜ After the removal of spleen, the platelet count of the blood multiplies. This condition is known as thrombocytosis and may result in abnormal clotting of blood which could be life-threatening.

➜ As the position of the spleen is very close to the lungs, there is always a chance of lung collapse after the spleen is removed. It can also lead to pneumonia and fluid accumulation in the lungs.

➜ Our body depends on the spleen to get rid of harmful bacteria and other such microorganisms. Once the spleen is removed, patients are susceptible to various forms of viral and bacterial infections.

➜ The risk of this kind of infection is maximum in the first 2 years of removal. As compared to adults, small children are more prone to such infections as their immune system is not so strong. For this reason, doctors try to avoid splenectomy in children.

The success of the surgery largely depends on a number of factors including the age and health condition of the patient. If the patient does not have any major complications of spleen removal, then fast and complete recovery is possible. Life after spleen removal is quite difficult for small children as they have to undergo long-term treatment with oral antibiotic medicines and vaccination regimen to prevent infections in the absence of spleen. Even adult patients are also vaccinated from time to time against common infections.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.