Open Splenectomy

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Open splenectomy is surgery to take out all or part of your spleen.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • You may have trouble breathing, or get pneumonia after an open splenectomy. Nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and other organs near the spleen may be damaged. You may bleed more than expected or get a severe or life-threatening infection. Even after surgery, your symptoms may not get better right away. If your spleen is completely removed, you will always have a higher risk for infections. You may get a blood clot in your leg or arm. This may become life-threatening.

  • If left untreated, your spleen can continue to swell and block normal blood flow in your abdomen. Your spleen may continue destroying normal blood cells and damaging organs, such as your liver. The immune system cells that fight infection (lymphocytes) are also destroyed. This can make you get sick easily, and make you feel weak and dizzy. Your spleen may also burst and cause severe bleeding, which can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

During your surgery:

An incision will be made in your abdomen to reach the spleen. The blood vessels attached to your spleen will be tied off and cut. Tissues that cover and are attached to the spleen will also be cut. Your surgeon will remove the whole spleen or only the damaged parts. Bleeding blood vessels will be tied, and the other organs near the spleen will be checked. Your surgeon may place a drain (small tube) to let fluid flow out from your abdomen. The incision will be closed with sutures and covered with a bandage.

After your surgery:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. Caregivers will monitor you closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your caregiver says it is okay. When your caregiver sees that you are okay, you will be able to go home or be taken to your hospital room. The bandages covering your incision keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. A caregiver may remove the bandages soon after your surgery to check your incision.

  • You may need to walk around the same day of surgery , or the day after. Movement will help prevent blood clots. You may also be given exercises to do in bed. Do not get out of bed on your own until your caregiver says you can. Talk to caregivers before you get up the first time. They may need to help you stand up safely. When you are able to get up on your own, sit or lie down right away if you feel weak or dizzy. Then press the call light button to let caregivers know you need help.

  • Deep breathing and coughing will decrease your risk for a lung infection. Take a deep breath and hold it for as long as you can. Let the air out and then cough strongly. Deep breaths help open your airway. You may be given an incentive spirometer to help you take deep breaths. Put the plastic piece in your mouth and take a slow, deep breath. Then let the air out and cough. Repeat these steps 10 times every hour.

  • You will be able to drink liquids and eat certain foods once your stomach function returns. You may be given ice chips at first. Then you will get liquids such as water, broth, juice, and clear soft drinks. If your stomach does not become upset, you may then be given soft foods, such as ice cream and applesauce. Once you can eat soft foods easily, you may slowly begin to eat solid foods.

  • A drain may be placed during surgery to remove extra fluid from your wound. This helps prevent infection. The drain is taken out when the wound stops draining fluid.

  • Medicines:

    • Antibiotics help prevent a bacterial infection.

    • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevents vomiting.

    • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

    • Bowel movement softeners make it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to prevent constipation.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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