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Spleen Removal Surgery (Splenectomy)

Underlying Problem Requiring Spleen Removal Surgery:
Spleen removal surgery is performed on an organ of the immune system that is found in the abdomen. The spleen acts to filter the blood. In addition to removing old red blood cells and platelets, it is also responsible for fighting off certain types of bacteria. Occasionally, the spleen will become damaged or diseased. It may become enlarged or rupture and may also be removed to diagnose lymphoma. Malaria and mononucleosis are two diseases that can cause the spleen to enlarge. Cancerous cells can also lead to spleen removal surgery.

Spleen removal surgery (also called splenectomy) can be performed in more than one manner. For example, there is a laparoscopic procedure that requires only small incisions to access the organ. This procedure is more common when the spleen is not significantly large. If there has been a great deal of enlargement or damage has been done due to a traumatic event, an open surgery may be required.

In the case of an open surgery, a general anesthetic is administered to the patient. The organ is then disconnected from the arteries that feed it blood. Likewise, the ligaments that hold it in place are cut. The spleen is then removed from the body. If necessary, a drain will be left in the organ\'s place, and the incision will be closed to complete the spleen removal surgery.

If it is not necessary to remove the whole spleen, doctors will often work to leave at least part of it inside the patient. This helps to maintain some of the immune system functions of the spleen. Because of the loss of these protective functions, patients will often receive vaccinations before the surgery commences.

Recovery from Spleen Removal Surgery:
While anesthesia prevents the patient from feeling pain during the surgery, there will likely be pain at the surgical site for a few days post-op. Doctors will often prescribe pain medications to mitigate this discomfort. The hospital stay for spleen removal surgery will likely last two to four days. Once the patient goes home, vigorous activity must be avoided for several weeks. Even driving may be limited for some time.

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