Splenectomy is used to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Your doctor may recommend splenectomy if you have one of the following:

  • Ruptured spleen. If your spleen ruptures due to a severe abdominal injury or because of enlargement of your spleen (splenomegaly), the result may be life-threatening, internal bleeding. Splenectomy is frequently required to treat a ruptured spleen.
  • Blood disorder. Severe cases of certain blood disorders, such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), polycythemia vera, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, may require splenectomy. But splenectomy is typically used only after other treatments have failed to reduce the symptoms of these disorders.
  • Cancer. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are cancers that can affect the spleen. If cancer is found in the spleen, or if spleen enlargement occurs as a result of cancer, your spleen may need to be removed. Splenectomy also is often used as treatment for hairy cell leukemia.
  • Infection. A severe infection or a large collection of pus surrounded by inflammation (abscess) within your spleen that doesn't respond to other treatment may require splenectomy.
  • Cyst or tumor. Noncancerous cysts or tumors inside the spleen may require splenectomy if they become large or are difficult to remove completely.

Although it's uncommon, your doctor may recommend splenectomy if your spleen is enlarged and no cause for the enlargement can be found using diagnostic tests such as blood work or imaging exams.

July 20, 2012