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A splenectomy (say "splih-NEK-tuh-mee") is surgery to take out the spleen. The spleen is an organ in the upper left side of the belly. It filters old and damaged blood cells from the blood. The spleen may need to be removed if it doesn't work well because of an infection like pneumonia. Sometimes it's removed because it was injured in a crash or a fall.
Your child will be asleep during the surgery. The surgery may be done through one large cut (incision). This is called open surgery. Or your child may have laparoscopic surgery. To do this, the doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other tools through several small cuts.
Open surgery will leave a scar on your child's belly. Laparoscopic surgery leaves small scars. They will fade over time.
The spleen helps protect your child from illness. After the spleen is gone, your child may be more likely to get infections such as pneumonia and meningitis. So before or soon after surgery, your child may need one or more vaccinations.
Your child may need to take antibiotics for a while after surgery. Your child may also need to take them each time your child has a fever. This could be a sign of a serious infection. Ask the doctor what to do if your child has a fever.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Surgery can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's surgery.
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Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Brad W. Warner MD - Pediatric Surgery & Thomas Emmett Francoeur MD MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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