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Open Splenectomy


  • Open splenectomy is surgery to take out all or a part of your spleen. The spleen is a bean-shaped organ found under the ribs on the left upper side of your abdomen (stomach). As blood passes through the spleen, old and damaged blood cells are removed. The spleen also makes immune system cells called lymphocytes, which help fight germs and infections. You may need an open splenectomy when your spleen is damaged by blood diseases, infections, or injury. Cysts (sacs filled with fluids) and tumors may also damage the spleen and prevent the production of new lymphocytes. A damaged spleen can swell and block the flow of blood in your abdomen. This may cause problems in the other organs of your body, such as the liver. Open splenectomy can help stop the destruction of blood cells and restore normal blood flow.

  • You will have this procedure done before your condition gets worse or when symptoms appear. It is done through a large incision (cut) through the abdomen above the spleen. In some cases, you may start with a procedure called laparoscopic splenectomy (LS), but then have an open splenectomy. LS is a procedure that uses several small incisions and special instruments, such as a laparoscope, to remove your spleen. You may have an open splenectomy if your caregiver finds he cannot do the procedure with the smaller incisions and tools of LS. With open splenectomy, your symptoms may be relieved and further damage to other organs prevented.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
  • Stool softeners: This medicine makes it easier for you to have a bowel movement. You may need this medicine to treat or prevent constipation.
  • Vaccines: You may also need new vaccinations or booster shots, such as against the flu and bacterial meningitis (brain infection). Ask your caregiver which vaccinations you will need. Ask your caregiver for more information about these vaccines if you have questions or concerns about them.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

  • Ask your caregiver when you need to return to have your wound checked. You will also need to have stitches or drains removed.

Bathing with stitches:

Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.


Stay away from large crowds the first week or two after surgery. This helps you to keep from getting an infection.

Medical alert ID:

You will need to get a medical alert identification item, such as a bracelet, to wear at all times. This item should show information to let others know that you have had your spleen removed. This is important information if you are ever in an accident or become unconscious. This item tells caregivers who do not know you about this important information.


  • You have chills, a cough, a sore throat, or feel weak and achy.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You cannot make it to your next appointment.
  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition, treatment, or care.


  • You have a fever.
  • You get bad abdominal pain, or start to feel lightheaded or faint.
  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or passing urine.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your incision is swollen, red, have pus coming from it, or if it starts to come apart.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.