A splenectomy is the surgical removal of your spleen – a blood-filtering abdominal organ. Your spleen stores red blood cells and has white blood cells (macrophages) that find and kill bacteria.
Splenectomy can treat immune disorders, organ abnormalities, cancer and conditions such as:
- Immune thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP) – This makes your body destroy platelets in your spleen that help prevent bleeding.
- Hemolytic anemia – Your body makes antibodies that attack red blood cells in your spleen. If medical therapies fail, a splenectomy might prevent the need for blood transfusion.
- Genetic (inherited) diseases – Conditions such as sickle cell disease and spherocystosis (sphere-shaped cells) affect red blood cell shape. Your body considers them abnormal and attacks them.
- Blood cancer – These include leukemia (white blood cell cancer) and lymphoma, which affects your lymph system.
- Enlarged spleen – This causes the removal of too many blood platelets.
- Abnormal blood flow – Blood supply to your spleen may be blocked (infarct) or expanded (aneurysm).
- Infection (rare) – If your spleen is infected, doctors may advise splenectomy.
Splenectomy can remove diseased organs and tissues. It may prevent complications and stop or ease symptoms. It’s sometimes used to diagnose or treat tumors.
Your doctor will discuss treatments, risks and benefits. Some conditions respond to medication. Your doctor will review your history. Tests may include imaging, an EKG heart test and complete blood count (CBC). Doctors sometimes sample bone marrow.
- Laparoscopic splenectomy – Once you are placed under general anesthesia, your doctor places an inflatable cannula (tube) into your abdomen to make room to operate. Doctors put a laparoscope (camera-linked telescope) through another incision. This guides the surgeon, showing images on a monitor. Your surgeon removes your spleen through one of several small incisions.
- Open splenectomy – Obesity, scar tissue or other conditions can make traditional surgery necessary. While you’re under general anesthesia, your doctor makes a larger incision and removes your spleen.
Some people require blood transfusion or blood products. Your care team provides customized information and helps you prepare.
Temple Health Expertise
At Temple Health, our specialists work together to manage a wide range of conditions, including blood diseases and cancer. With decades of surgical experience, hematology and other specialties, we understand complex conditions and procedures requiring cross-disciplinary teamwork. Our highlights include:
- Leading doctors – “Top Doctors” and Best Doctors in America® rank Temple Health physicians among the region’s most outstanding healthcare providers.
- Innovative technologies – Surgeons use effective, technology-guided systems in fully equipped, state-of-the-art surgical suites. Specialized devices, 3D-HD views and ergonomic equipment enable highly specific angles and access.
- Acute-care hospital – Temple University Hospital (TUH) is one of the region’s most respected academic medical centers. As Temple Health’s acute-care cornerstone, TUH provides exceptional cross-specialty care. Jeanes Hospital also provides sophisticated services in a convenient, community-based setting.