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Open spleen removal in adults - discharge

Splenectomy - adult - discharge; Spleen removal - adult - discharge

You had surgery to remove your spleen. This operation is called splenectomy. Now that you're going home, follow your health care provider's instructions on how to care for yourself while you heal.

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When You're in the Hospital

The type of surgery you had is called open surgery. The surgeon made a cut (incision) in the middle of your belly or on the left side of your belly just below the ribs. If you are being treated for cancer, the surgeon probably also removed the lymph nodes in your belly.

What to Expect at Home

Recovering from surgery takes 4 to 8 weeks. You may have some of these symptoms as you recover:

If your spleen was removed for a blood disorder or lymphoma, you may need more treatments. This depends on your medical disorder.

Activity

Make sure your home is safe as you are recovering. For example, remove throw rugs to prevent tripping and falling. Be sure that you can use your shower or bath safely. Have someone stay with you for a few days until you are sure you can take care of yourself.

You should be able to do most of your regular activities in 4 to 8 weeks. Before that:

Managing Pain

Your doctor will prescribe pain medicines for you to use at home. If you are taking pain pills 3 or 4 times a day, try taking them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They may be more effective this way. Ask your surgeon about taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen for pain instead of narcotic pain medicine.

Try getting up and moving around if you are having pain in your belly. This may ease your pain.

Press a pillow over your incision when you cough or sneeze to ease discomfort and protect your incision.

Wound Care

Care for your incision as instructed. If the incision was covered with skin glue, you may shower with soap the day after surgery. Pat the area dry. If you have a dressing, change it daily and shower when your surgeon says it is ok.

If strips of tape were used to close your incision:

DO NOT soak in a bathtub or hot tub or go swimming until your surgeon tells you it is OK.

Preventing Infections

Most people live a normal active life without a spleen. But there is always a risk of getting an infection. This is because the spleen is part of the body's immune system, helping fight infections.

After your spleen is removed, you will be more likely to get infections:

Keeping up to date on your immunizations will be very important. Ask your doctor if you should have these vaccines:

Things you can do to help prevent infections:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your surgeon or nurse if you have any of the following:

Related Information

Spleen removal
Surgical wound care - open
Getting out of bed after surgery
Wet-to-dry dressing changes

References

Poulose BK, Holzman MD. The spleen. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 56.

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Review Date: 3/12/2019  

Reviewed By: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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