As one of the integral organs in the lymphatic system, the spleen is responsible for filtering the blood and removing damaged or old cells that could hurt the body. Because of unpredictable, traumatic injuries and the necessity to deal with a poorly functioning organ, a splenectomy is performed. Although a person can live without a spleen, certain complications shouldn’t be ignored. Poor infection control is a common outcome of the removal in addition to such possible risks as blood loss, blood clots, and the damage of nearly located organs. Compared to open splenectomy, a laparoscopic procedure is safer due to its small incisions. Today, new techniques to improve laparoscopic splenectomy are offered to mitigate the consequences of surgical removal. Education and innovative decisions help make splenectomy safe and effective for patients.
A splenectomy is a major surgery that lasts about two to four hours and requires several weeks to recover at home fully. Despite its simple performance, one needs to remember that removing the spleen compromises the body, and the immune system is affected the most. A splenectomy weakens the body and makes it possible for bacteria and infections to penetrate the organism quickly. As soon as the body feels the lack of one organ, other organs like the liver or the lymph nodes have to take its functions. In most cases, the body is able to cope with infections, but the risks exist, and doctors recommend following the recovery and precautionary measures like vaccination, education, and the choice of less invasive procedures.
Many researchers are interested in examining the spleen and its relationship with other organs. For example, a splenectomy means the removal of the spleen that is closely located to the stomach and pancreas. Thus, there is a threat of damaging the organs and systems that are not actually affected by the absence of the spleen. To alleviate the consequences of the surgery, He et al. (2018) offer a new laparoscopic splenectomy approach where “manipulating the splenic hilum via active exposure of the pancreatic tail” is possible (para. 1). This technique is safe and allows controlling the condition of the spleen, transecting the gastrosplenic and splenorenal ligaments, enlarging the surgical port, and removing the spleen sectioned into pieces. This method is characterized by fast recovery and less trauma, but some surgeons do not want to take this risk due to the spleen’s deep position.
Regardless of the chosen approaches and outcomes, patient education is a step that aims to reduce the number of adverse postoperative outcomes. Luu et al. (2019) state that patients must be properly informed about life without the spleen and understand the increased risk of infections and cooperate with health care workers. It is normal to “seek medical attention in the case of animal bites and scratches” or “prior to travel” (Luu et al., 2019, p. 2846). Asplenic patients receive enough care at the hospital, but their awareness of the condition defines their possibility to avoid complications.
In general, the impact of splenectomy has to be recognized and discussed before surgery. Patients should understand why the removal of the spleen is necessary and what changes are inevitable. People can live without this organ, and the body gets by soon because the liver and other organs may complete the functions of the spleen. Still, the risk of bacterial infections is high, and laparoscopic splenectomy is a technique that reduces asplenic complications. Doctors are responsible for advancing patients’ awareness about life after splenectomy and minimizing threats of infections.
He, Q. J., Dai, X. M., Yu, C., & Yang, S. L. (2018). Laparoscopic splenectomy: A new approach. Clinics, 73. Web.
Luu, S., Spelman, D., & Woolley, I. J. (2019). Post-splenectomy sepsis: Preventative strategies, challenges, and solutions. Infection and Drug Resistance, 12, 2839-2851.