What is a Splenectomy & Laparoscopic Splenectomy?
Laparoscopic splenectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used to remove your spleen, which is the organ located in the upper part of the left side of your abdomen. The spleen helps fight infections and also filters your blood for certain waste materials like damaged or old blood cells.
Why Will You Need a Laparoscopic Splenectomy?
A splenectomy is done to treat a wide range of medical conditions, either related to a primary spleen problem or as a secondary health problem affecting the spleen. The spleen can become enlarged/inflamed. Some of the most common causes of splenectomy include:
- Spleen rupture.
- Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- Blood disorders, like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Infection or spleen abscess
- Spleen cysts or tumors
What Does a Laparoscopic Splenectomy Involve?
Before the Procedure
Before surgery, your doctor will explain to you the reasons and the steps of your procedure as well as the consequences of removing your spleen. It’s important to stop drinking or eating anything at least 8 hours before the procedure.
During the Procedure
After the general anesthetic has been applied, your doctor will make 3-5 small incisions in your abdomen and introduce the laparoscopy instruments and a tiny camera. Then, your doctor will cut the spleen off and seal the blood vessels and ligaments that used to be attached to it. Finally, your skin incisions will be closed back again. The entire procedure usually takes about 1-2 hours and you will be closely monitored all the time.
The laparoscopic technique has numerous benefits over open surgery when preforming a splenectomy including:
- Less invasive procedure
- Shorter recovery time
- Less pain
Not all splenectomy cases are eligible for the laparoscopic technique. Depending on the size of your spleen and the cause of your problem, your doctor might choose an open surgical procedure to remove it.
After the Procedure
Usually, staying in the hospital at least one night after the procedure is required. At home, you might feel some discomfort in your upper abdomen, which is normal. Returning to your job and regular activities will be possible after at least 2 weeks.
Laparoscopic Splenectomy Possible Risks and Complications
Laparoscopic splenectomy is a safe procedure, although like all surgeries they may be some risk that your doctor will discuss with you. As you will lose the spleen protection over some infections, your doctor will advise you on relevant vaccinations you should have.