Your spleen was removed after you were given general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free).
The surgeon made an incision (cut) in the middle of your belly. Or the incision was made on the left side of your belly just below the ribs. If you are being treated for cancer, the surgeon probably also removed the lymph nodes in your belly.
Recovering from open spleen removal surgery takes 4 to 8 weeks. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:
If your spleen was removed for a blood disorder or lymphoma, you may need more treatments. This depends on your medical disorder.
Plan to have someone drive you home from the hospital. Do not drive yourself home.
Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering. For example, remove throw rugs to prevent tripping and falling. To stay safe in the bathroom, install grab bars to help you get in and out of the tub or shower.
You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 to 8 weeks. Before that:
Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines for you to use at home. If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, try taking them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They may be more effective this way.
Try getting up and moving around if you are having pain in your belly. This may ease your pain.
Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.
Care for your incision as instructed. Change the dressing over your surgical incision once a day, or sooner if it gets wet or dirty. Your doctor will tell you when you can stop keeping your incision covered. Keep the incision area clean by washing it with mild soap and water.
You may remove the dressings (bandages) and take showers if sutures (stitches), staples, or glue were used to close your skin.
If glue or strips of tape were used to close your incision:
Do not soak in a bathtub or hot tub or go swimming until your doctor tells you it is okay.
Most people live a normal active life without a spleen, but there is always a risk of getting an infection. This is because the spleen is part of the body's immune system, helping fight infections.
After your spleen is removed, you will be more likely to get infections:
Keeping up to date on your immunizations will be very important. Ask your doctor if you should have these vaccinations:
You may need to take antibiotics every day for some time. Do not stop taking antibiotics without checking with your doctor. Some people will need to take antibiotics every day for several years after surgery.
Things you can do to help prevent infections:
Call your doctor or nurse if:
Splenectomy - adult - discharge; Spleen removal - adult - discharge
Cadili A, de Gara C. Complications of splenectomy. Am J Med. 2008;121:371-375.
Shelton J, Holzman MD. The spleen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 57.
Updated by: Matthew M. Cooper, MD, FACS, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Surgery, HealthEast Care System, St. Paul, MN. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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