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A procedure to remove your spleen if it is damaged, diseased or enlarged
Your spleen is an organ that sits under your ribcage on the upper left side of your abdomen (tummy). It helps fight infection in your body by controlling the level of your red blood cells and platelets. When your spleen doesn't work properly, it might begin to remove healthy blood cells, sometimes resulting in a number of health issues, which we explore in more detail below.
A splenectomy is typically performed by a general surgeon, who is highly skilled in performing a wide range of surgeries - many of which are emergency surgeries. Most of these surgeries involve treating your gastrointestinal tract, which is made up of organs such as your stomach and intestine.
At Circle Health Group, we have a large network of thousands of general surgeons who can perform your splenectomy and help restore your health. Call us or book an appointment online and you could be having your initial consultation within 48 hours.
These symptoms can be caused by several conditions that affect your spleen, including:
Your spleen can become damaged or burst as the result of a hard blow to the area where your spleen is (your tummy) - this could be during a car accident or sporting injury, such as a rugby tackle. The key signs of a ruptured spleen are pain and tenderness in your left ribs, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate.
This happens when your spleen becomes swollen after an infection, or as a result of a health condition such as cirrhosis or rheumatoid arthritis. The most common symptoms of an enlarged spleen are feeling full very quickly after eating, fatigue, and discomfort and tenderness behind your left ribs.
If you have any of the symptoms described above, you might need your spleen removed. It is important to seek medical advice quickly if you have these symptoms to ensure you get the best treatment for you as soon as possible.
Our fixed-price packages include the cost of your surgery and all appropriate aftercare appointments. However, any pre-surgery diagnostic tests and your consultant's outpatient appointment consultation fee are charged separately.
Our flexible payment options help you spread the cost of your payment across a time period that suits you. We offer fixed-term monthly payment plans over one to five years with no deposit required.
If you have private health insurance, your splenectomy will usually be covered by your provider. Speak to your insurer directly to find out.
Your consultant might also arrange for you to have blood tests (a full blood count) to check the function of your kidneys and the level of your platelets and red and white blood cells - these can't confirm whether there is an issue with your spleen, but they can offer a helpful picture of your overall health.
The time you'll wait between your initial consultation and surgery will differ from person to person. For example, someone who has suffered a traumatic injury and has a ruptured spleen will need to have surgery immediately, whereas someone with a less urgent condition will be able to choose a surgery date that suits their schedule.
Your surgeon will give you a good idea of timelines during your initial consultation, after which they'll put together a fixed-price treatment package based on everything you have discussed together. Once you've agreed to the costs, we can get you booked in to have your surgery without delay.
You might be asked to avoid food and drink for up to 12 hours before having surgery. If you're taking blood-thinning medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin, you might be asked to stop taking it for a few days before having the procedure. This is to prevent excessive bleeding during the operation, which can result in complications. You might also be advised to stop smoking (if applicable) during the lead-up to surgery.
Your healthcare team will ensure you know exactly how to prepare for a splenectomy, so there won't be any unanswered questions along the way. If you do need to stop smoking for a short period before surgery, they will offer advice and support on how best to do this, as well as how to maintain your overall health and wellbeing in the run-up to surgery.
Your surgeon will begin by making four small incisions across your tummy. He or she will then insert a laparoscope through one of these incisions - this is a thin tube with a light and camera attached to one end of it. This is connected to a monitor which displays high-quality images of the inside of your tummy, so your consultant can see your spleen clearly. They will use specialist surgical tools inserted through the small incisions to remove your spleen with precision. They will then close the incisions with dissolvable stitches, which will not need to be removed by your consultant in a follow-up appointment, because they dissolve naturally within a week or two.
A laparoscopic splenectomy typically takes between three and five hours, but this depends on individual circumstances, such as the size of your spleen and the reason for your consultant removing it.
Your consultant might have to perform open surgery if your spleen has ruptured. During this procedure, they will make one large incision in the middle of your abdomen and move aside any muscle and tissue surrounding your spleen to reveal it. It can also take up to five hours to remove your spleen with open surgery, but this depends on your individual circumstances.
Your consultant and healthcare team will ensure you understand every step of a splenectomy, so you feel as prepared as possible for surgery.
You should be able to eat and drink normally as soon as you wake up and feel ready to.
After returning home, you should take it easy for the first few weeks, making sure you take plenty of rest and maintain a healthy, balanced diet to support your immune system.
Be careful when lifting heavy objects and straining the muscles in your tummy. Your consultant will ensure you know when it is safe to begin exercising again - this differs from person to person, but you can enjoy gentle walks to stay fit as you regain strength and your incisions heal.
People usually need to wait a week before driving, but your consultant will offer you more tailored advice on this depending on your circumstances. You should also speak to your insurance company who may have specific rules about when you can get behind the wheel again.
Full recovery from a splenectomy can take up to six weeks, so be gentle with yourself and follow the instructions of your healthcare team within this timeframe.
Your spleen helps you fight off infection and maintain a strong immune system, so living without one puts you at higher risk of developing an infection. But this doesn't mean you can't live a normal and healthy life after surgery.
To reduce your risk of infection, your doctor will recommend you have vaccines for the flu and meningococci (meningitis). They will also want to know that you have had all your routine vaccines delivered by the NHS.
Most people are given low-dose antibiotics to take for at least two years after surgery to prevent infections - you may even take these for the rest of your life, if your doctor recommends. These are safe to take for long periods of time and help you live infection-free.
You can discuss these risks with your consultant, who can answer any questions you have about them and put your mind at ease.
The surgery itself does not affect your life expectancy, but if you have your spleen removed due to trauma, other injuries might have been sustained, which can affect your life expectancy. Having no spleen can also affect your immune system, which can put you at risk of developing life-threatening infections. This is uncommon because most people take low-dose antibiotics for at least two years after surgery to prevent infections.
Yes, it does, but as mentioned above, there are many effective ways to manage this. Many people live normal, healthy lives following a splenectomy.
Both a laparoscopic splenectomy and open surgery can take up to five hours.
It can take up to six weeks to fully recover from the procedure, but everyone recovers differently. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you recover at home.
If you want to know more about a splenectomy and find out if it's the right treatment for you, book your appointment online today or call a member of our team directly.