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Splenectomy

Surgery Overview

A splenectomy (say "splih-NEK-tuh-mee") is surgery to take out the spleen. You may have your spleen taken out because a disease made it get too big. Or maybe your spleen no longer works as it should. The doctor also may remove the spleen if it was damaged in an injury.

Your surgery may be done through one large cut (incision). This is called open surgery. Or you may have laparoscopic surgery. To do this, the doctor puts a lighted tube, or scope, and other tools through several small cuts.

The spleen helps protect you from illness. After your spleen is gone, you may be more likely to get certain infections. So before or soon after your surgery, you will need a pneumococcal shot. You may also need other vaccinations.

Vaccines. The pneumococcal, meningococcal, and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccines will help prevent serious infections, such as pneumonia. If you know in advance that you will have your spleen removed, plan to get these vaccines 2 weeks before your surgery. If you have your spleen removed after a trauma, it’s best if you can have the vaccines as early as 2 weeks after surgery. You may also need other vaccines if you have other health problems. You should get the influenza (flu) vaccine every year, and always keep your routine immunizations up to date. For more information, see Immunizations.

Open surgery will leave a scar about 15 to 25 centimetres long on your belly. Laparoscopic surgery leaves small scars. They will fade over time.

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