Splenectomy Surgery: Long-Term Care

What you need to know after your spleen is removed

Splenectomy surgery doesn’t require a lot of long-term care on its own, but you will have to make some accommodations to a life without a spleen. Your spleen plays a significant role in your immune system, removing bacteria and debris from your bloodstream, so there are steps you should take to avoid complications long after your surgery.

Man gets immunization after splenectomy
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Benefits of Surgery

After surgery, you should be relieved of the problems you were experiencing before your splenectomy. If your spleen was removed because it was enlarged, you may find it doesn't press on your stomach and it is easier to eat. Removal of an enlarged spleen also reduces the risk of a traumatic rupture.

If you had a splenectomy due to a ruptured spleen or other traumatic injury, it was likely a life-saving surgery. Because this organ filters and stores blood, a rupture can lead to massive blood loss and can be fatal.

If you had your spleen removed due to blood disorders, lymphoma, leukemia, or cancer, your doctor will likely want to monitor you going forward to make sure there are no further problems—or to treat ongoing issues.

Possible Future Surgeries

Additional surgeries related to splenectomy are not common. You may need a follow-up surgery if you developed post-surgical complications like infection, bleeding, hernias, or blood clots.

Lifestyle Adjustments

After your spleen is removed, your liver will take over many of the functions that your spleen performed when it comes to filtering and storing blood. The rest of your immune system will work to fight infections, but there is an increased chance of certain types of infection without the help of the spleen.

After a splenectomy, in particular, you are risk for developing an overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI). Without the spleen, your body may not fight off bacterial infections as well. Immunizations are given before surgery if possible, and antibiotics are very useful if these infections occur.

The vaccinations recommended before—and soon after—your splenectomy include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Influenza
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Meningococcus

Ideally, you will receive these vaccinations before surgery, and again about two months after surgery. Some may also require booster vaccinations. You should receive your flu shot every year.

It’s also recommended that would wear a medical bracelet or have some other way to identify yourself to medical providers after a splenectomy so that they are aware of your increased infection risk.

A Word From Verywell

Whether your spleen is removed to treat a disease or because of a traumatic injury, you will need to take precautions for the rest of your life to prevent infections. You doctor will discuss strategies with you to stay safe and reduce your infection risk.

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Article Sources
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  1. Tahir F, Ahmed J, Malik F. Post-splenectomy sepsis: A review of the literature. Cureus. 2020;12(2):e6898. doi:10.7759/cureus.6898

  2. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Spleen removal (splenectomy) surgery patient information. Updated 2015.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asplenia and adult vaccinations. Updated May 2, 2016.