Spleen removal (Splenectomy)
The spleen is in the upper part of the belly, on the left side underneath the ribcage. The spleen helps the body fight germs and infections, and helps to filter the blood.
What to Expect:
The spleen is removed while you are under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free). The surgeon may do either an open splenectomy or a laparoscopic splenectomy.
During open spleen removal:
- The surgeon makes a cut (incision) in the middle of the belly or on the left side of the belly just below the ribs.
- The spleen is located and removed.
- If you are also being treated for cancer, lymph nodes in the belly are examined. They may also be removed.
- The incision is closed using stitches or staples.
During laparoscopic spleen removal:
- The surgeon makes three or four small cuts in the belly.
- The surgeon inserts an instrument called a laparoscope through one of the cuts. The scope has a tiny camera and light on the end, which allows the surgeon to see inside the belly. Other instruments are inserted through the other cuts.
- Gas is pumped into the belly to expand it. This gives the surgeon room to work.
- The surgeon uses the scope and other instruments to remove the spleen.
- The scope and other instruments are removed. The incisions are closed using stitches or staples.
With laparoscopic surgery, recovery is often faster and less painful than with open surgery. Talk to your surgeon about which type of surgery is right for you or your child.