The spleen is an organ that is located under the rib cage on the upper left side of the abdomen. It helps in the creation and elimination of blood cells which form part of the immune system. It removes the old red blood cells that are damaged and stores white blood cells which help to fight off certain infections and keep bacteria at bay. Splenectomy is a procedure whereby the spleen is removed.
Why do you need a Splenectomy?
There are various causes of getting a splenectomy done. The most common reason to have splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen which might be due to abdominal injury. You might need a splenectomy if you have certain blood disorders, cancers, tumors, and other infections.
A spleen that is ruptured can cause many hurdles in life and should be taken seriously as it can be life-threatening too. The causes of the rupture are many; one of the most common ones being rigorous sporting activities and accidents that put pressure on the abdomen. Spleen removal becomes mandatory as internal bleeding can take place. Another reason for having spleen removal is to treat diseases that have an impact on red blood cells.
If the patient has cancer, in some cases splenectomy becomes a necessity. If there is a blood disorder in a patient, the antibodies start affecting the blood platelets which is an autoimmune disorder. The disease can be treated with the help of splenectomy. Patients who are anemic, the antibodies produced by the body start attacking the red blood cells so the spleen removal is advised. Other scenarios like a spleen becoming infected and causing other problems like the organ being swollen requires spleen removal.
How is the surgery performed?
There are small incisions made by the surgeon in your abdomen, approximately four. A tube with a tiny video camera is inserted into the abdomen through one of the incisions. This enables a surgeon to have a clear picture of the organ. The spleen is then removed with other surgical tools that are put through other incisions. Once the spleen is removed, the incisions are stitched back. Laparoscopic Splenectomy allows speedy recovery, hence allowing the patient to leave the same day.
Is Laparoscopic Splenectomy suitable for all patients?
Laparoscopic Splenectomy is not suitable for all patients despite all the health benefits it might provide. Some patients are advised to have an open splenectomy. This might be due to the patient’s previous medical history or other surgeries that the patient might have undergone. In an open splenectomy, one large incision is made, and the spleen is removed. Unlike laparoscopic splenectomy, open splenectomy requires more time for recovery and this might prolong the stay at the hospital. The technique determined to undergo the surgery depends on the patient’s health condition. The doctor will go through medical history and advise what the appropriate approach is. The chances for having laparoscopic splenectomy for people who are obese are less so an open splenectomy is recommended.
The size of the spleen is an important factor in determining which approach should be used. It is difficult to remove a large or swollen spleen from small incisions that are made in laparoscopic splenectomy. In such cases, open splenectomy is performed.
Benefits of having Laparoscopic Splenectomy
A spleen plays a vital role in warding off infection and damaged blood cells. But if it no longer provides the benefits it is supposed to, splenectomy is performed. A person can live without a spleen, however, the likelihood of developing infection increases.
Laparoscopic splenectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that provides many benefits and has shown impressive results as compared to an open splenectomy. As mentioned earlier, laparoscopic splenectomy allows for a speedy recovery and a short hospital stay. The patient is allowed to go home the same day. It also depends on the patient’s previous medical history and other health complications. The patient is allowed to carry out normal routine activities, of course with extra care. The post-operative pain is less as compared to open splenectomy. There might be certain dietary restrictions but the solid food intake is permitted after a while depending on the pace of the recovery.
Potential risks from the surgery
Despite the advantages, there are certain risks involved such as chances of postoperative infection, pain, internal bleeding, and other complications. However, the risks of developing such problems are minimal especially if the surgical approach used is the laparoscopic one.
What to expect after the surgical procedure?
What should you expect from the procedure depends on which type of approach is used for surgery, laparoscopic or open splenectomy. The normal recovery time takes up to six weeks. Fluids are given through veins for a certain period of time or if the patient is having some sort of discomfort. The wounds take time to heal, the more you take care of it the lesser will be chances for an infection. The laparoscopic approach has more benefits than an open splenectomy, hence it is widely used and recommended for spleen removal worldwide.