How is my spleen removed?

In most cases, a splenectomy can be performed laparoscopically if the spleen is not massively enlarged. Under general anesthesia, the abdomen is inflated with carbon dioxide to allow your surgeons to see the operative area. Through small incisions, a camera (laparoscope) is placed into the abdomen and the picture is sent to video monitors for the surgeons to watch. Further small operating instruments are used to perform the operation. Your surgeon frees the spleen from all of its surrounding attachments. One incision is eventually extended to approximately 2 cm to place the “stapler” to control the blood supply (splenic artery and vein) of the organ. The now free spleen is placed inside a special bag with a drawstring, which is brought through the largest incision. Using a finger inside the bag, your spleen is broken into smaller pieces. The fragments of your spleen are then sent to pathology for analysis and the bag is removed.

If your spleen is too large for laparoscopic removal, it will be removed using an open approach with a single large incision. In addition to spleen size, scar tissue from previous operations may lead your surgeon to choose the open approach. This decision may be made before or during surgery. Indeed, it is always possible that a laparoscopic case may need to be converted to open if there are bleeding problems.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 09/23/2020.

References

  • Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Spleen Removal (Splenectomy). Accessed 9/21/2020.
  • Qureshi FG, Ergun O, Sandulache VC, et al. Laparoscopic Splenectomy in Children. JSLS : Journal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons. 2005;9(4):389-392. Accessed 9/21/2020.
  • Genetics Home Reference. Hereditary spherocytosis. Accessed 9/21/2020.
  • Yi S. Stat Pearls. Splenectomy. Accessed 9/21/2020.

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