Health Information and Tools >  Splenectomy
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Splenectomy

Topic Overview

Splenectomy is surgery to remove the spleen. The spleen gets rid of old and damaged red blood cells. Red blood cells may be damaged by a health condition, such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease. When the blood cells pass through the spleen, they are often destroyed. This can leave the body with too few red blood cells.

Some people have their spleen removed to keep from losing too many red blood cells. Other people may need to have it removed if the spleen is injured in a car crash or by another trauma.

The spleen helps the body fight certain types of bacteria. If your spleen is removed, your body will be less able to fight serious infections. So your doctor will suggest that you have:

  • 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.
  • Antibiotics. Many people who have their spleen removed take antibiotics for a while. They also may need to take antibiotics whenever they have a fever, which could be a sign of a serious bacterial infection. Talk to your doctor about what to do if you have a fever.

Related Information

Credits

Adaptation Date: 10/31/2019

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

Adapted with permission from copyrighted materials from Healthwise, Incorporated (Healthwise). This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty and is not responsible or liable for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.