Right before your surgery, you will be given a general anesthetic. The anesthesiologist or anesthetist gives you an anesthetic medication as a gas — to breathe through a mask — or injects a liquid medication into a vein. The surgical team monitors your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen throughout the procedure. You will have a blood pressure cuff on your arm and heart-monitor leads attached to your chest.
After you're unconscious, your surgeon begins the surgery using either a minimally invasive (laparoscopic) or open (traditional) procedure. The method used often depends on the size of the spleen. The larger the spleen, the more likely your surgeon will choose to do an open splenectomy.
Laparoscopic splenectomy. During laparoscopic splenectomy, the surgeon makes four small incisions in your abdomen. He or she then inserts a tube with a tiny video camera into your abdomen through one of the incisions. Your surgeon watches the video images on a monitor and removes the spleen with special surgical tools that are put in the other three incisions. Then he or she closes the incisions.
Laparoscopic splenectomy isn't appropriate for everyone. A ruptured spleen usually requires open splenectomy. In some cases your surgeon may begin with a laparoscopic approach and find it necessary to make a larger incision because of scar tissue from previous operations or other complications.
- Open splenectomy. During open splenectomy, your surgeon makes an incision in the middle of your abdomen and moves aside muscle and other tissue to reveal your spleen. He or she then removes the spleen and closes the incision.
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- In the hospital. After surgery you're moved to a recovery room. If you had laparoscopic surgery, you'll likely go home the same day or the day after. If you have open surgery, you may be able to go home after two to six days.
- After you go home. Talk to your doctor about how long to wait until resuming your daily activities. If you had laparoscopic surgery, it may be two weeks. After open surgery it may be six weeks.
- AskMayoExpert. Spleen disorders and splenectomy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Preparing for surgery to remove your child's spleen. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2012.
- Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Splenectomy: Spleen removal. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
- Taner T, et al. Splenectomy for massive splenomegaly: Long-term results and risks for mortality. Annals of Surgery. 2013;258:1034.
- Yeo CJ, ed. Splenectomy for conditions other than trauma. In: Shackelford's Surgery of the Alimentary Tract. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2013.
- Rubin LG, et al. Care of the asplenic patient. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371:349.
- Edgren G, et al. Splenectomy and the risk of sepsis: A population-based cohort study. Annals of Surgery. 2014;260:1081.