Splenectomy is the surgical process involved in the removal of the spleen. It is usually done after serious injury to it or in cases of severe underlying disease such as splenic rupture, splenomegaly and hypersplenism.
In the human body, the spleen is located on the left side of the upper abdomen, under the rib cage. It is small in size, and is very spongy. It is important in filtering the blood and removing impurities. Also, this is the organ that produces lymphocytes and antibodies, which fight diseases in your body.
The structure of the spleen consists of two parts, the red pulp and the white pulp. The red pulp contains connective tissue and blood vessels. This is where blood filtration takes place. The white pulp is the inner part of the spleen where antibodies and lymphocytes are produced. The splenic artery carries blood to the spleen, which is filtered and then carried away by the splenic vein.
Indications of Splenectomy
It is usually done as an emergency procedure in cases of splenic rupture resulting from injury to the chest. If it is not done, internal hemorrhage will occur, and the person may die from blood loss. It is also done as a non-emergency procedure in cases of splenomegaly, infections, and cancerous tumors.
Before doing the surgery, your doctor will carry out a number of tests to confirm the need for splenectomy. This includes physical examination, ultrasound scan, blood tests and CT scan. A bone marrow biopsy may also be done to confirm the severity of the condition. Your doctor will determine whether you will need surgery, depending on the test results and the area of spleen involved.
Recovery After Splenectomy
Even though the spleen has a very important function in your body, you can live without it. Most of the functions of the spleen are done by other organs in the body. However, splenectomy can increase the vulnerability to infections. Sometimes, only a part of the spleen is removed so that the healthy part will perform its normal functions.
Immunizations and Splenectomy
Due to the increased susceptibility to infection, your doctor may advise you to take certain immunizations to protect your body against extremely harmful diseases. You should take meningococcal vaccination, pneumococcal vaccination and hemophilus influenzae type b vaccination. You can discuss this with your doctor. You can also ask your doctor whether you need to take any vaccinations.