Splenectomy (removal of the spleen)
Lies on the left hand side of the abdominal cavity and is a lymphatic organ.
Functions: removal of abnormal blood cells and other blood components. Storage of iron from recycled red blood cells. Initiation of immune responses by B cells and T cells in response to antigens in the circulating blood. The spleen is an organ located in the upper left portion of the abdomen, behind the stomach. Its functions are to filter blood, remove bacteria, make blood, and store blood.
If your physician diagnoses any of the following diseases, you may be a candidate for splenectomy (removal of the spleen): acute and chronic leukemia, cysts, primary splenic thrombocytopenia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), primary splenic neutropenia, Felty's syndrome, Banti's disease, congestive splenomegaly, splenic tumors, splenic artery aneurysms, lymphomas, thrombolytic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), HIV splenomegaly, splenomegaly, splenocytosis, or a variety of anemias.
How is laparoscopic splenectomy performed?
Laparoscopic surgery uses a thin, telescope-like instrument called a laparoscope, which is inserted through a small incision in the flank (the fleshy part of the side between the ribs and hip). The laparoscope is connected to a tiny video camera (smaller than a dime) which projects a view of the operative site onto video monitors located in the operating room. The abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide, a gas, to allow your surgeon a better view of the operative area. Two or three additional small incisions are made near the laparoscope through which the surgeon inserts specialized instruments. The surgeon uses these instruments to remove the spleen. Following the procedure, the small incisions are closed with sutures and covered with surgical tape. After a few months, they are barely visible.
What are the benefits of laparoscopic splenectomy?
- Three or four tiny scars instead of one large abdominal scar
- Less risk of hernia
- Shorter hospital stay - you may leave one to two days after surgery
- Reduced postoperative pain
- Shorter recovery time and quicker return to daily activities, including work
What can I expect after surgery?
It is important to follow your doctor's instructions after surgery. Although many people feel better in just a few days, you may need to take it easy for two to four weeks.
How safe is laparoscopic splenectomy?
If performed by experts in this field, laparoscopic splenectomy is as safe as "open" surgery in carefully selected cases.
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