Spleen Surgery (Splenectomy)

Surgical Associates of Marshall County offer treatment for conditions of the spleen with minimally invasive spleen surgery in Albertville and Guntersville.

Though the spleen serves an important role in the immune system, some conditions require the complete or partial removal of the organ. At Surgical Associates of Marshall County, we offer spleen surgery (also known as splenectomy) to treat the dangers of a ruptured spleen or another life-threatening condition that involves this organ.

When is Splenectomy Needed?

Because a ruptured spleen can lead to potentially fatal internal bleeding, splenectomy or spleen surgery is usually necessary when injury or trauma causes the spleen to break. Spleen ruptures most commonly occur as a result of car accidents, contact sports and other activities that can cause extreme impacts to the abdomen.

The spleen is largely responsible for filtering the blood and fighting infection. Conditions that affect blood cells or interfere with the spleen’s functionality may require splenectomy, including:

Spleen-Related Conditions:

  • Spleen cancer
  • Hypersplenism (overactive spleen)
  • Cyst, abscess, infection or pus in the spleen

Other Conditions:

  • Cancers that affect the blood (lymphoma, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease)
  • Blood cell disorders like idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Lupus

What to Expect from Splenectomy

When the spleen is ruptured due to trauma, splenectomy will likely be needed immediately. If splenectomy is needed for another reason, a physical examination and procedures like x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs and blood tests will be performed to accurately diagnose the condition and ensure spleen removal is the correct course of action.

It is important that you closely follow all pre-operative instructions provided by your surgeon. Such instructions may include dietary restrictions and medication alterations. You may also need to undergo blood transfusions and vaccinations before spleen surgery.

Laparoscopic vs. Open Splenectomy

At Surgical Associates of Marshall County, we perform spleen surgery or splenectomy using minimally invasive laparoscopic techniques whenever possible. Laparoscopic surgery reduces downtime and discomfort by completing the operation through small abdominal incisions with a specialized surgical camera.

However, some circumstances may require splenectomy to be performed with open surgery. Ruptured spleens often require open splenectomy, while scar tissue, obesity and large or swollen spleens may also make open surgery necessary.

Splenectomy is performed under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep for the duration of the operation. Recovery time will depend on the method used for the splenectomy and the underlying condition removal of the spleen. Open surgery often requires a weeklong hospital stay while laparoscopic surgery may allow you to return home more quickly. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions to aid in your recovery.

After Splenectomy

The spleen is an important part of the immune system, but we can live without it. Still, spleen removal puts you at a higher risk of serious bacterial infections like meningitis and pneumonia. After splenectomy, potentially life-threatening infections can occur rapidly and are referred to as overwhelming post-splenectomy infections (OPSI).

To improve your body’s defenses against infection, you may be given immunizations, and children will be required to take antibiotics daily. Adults may need antibiotics quickly when sick, becoming sick or leaving the country. After spleen surgery, yearly flu vaccines are usually recommended.

To learn more about spleen surgery at Surgical Associates of Marshall County, please call 256-840-5547 (Albertville) or 256-571-8734 (Guntersville) or complete our online contact form.