Spleen Removal (Splenectomy)
The spleen, located in the upper left portion of the abdomen, is a storage organ containing red blood cells and macrophages, disease fighting white blood cells that help to filter blood. The spleen also aids the body in identifying and killing bacteria, and acts as an important part of the immune system.
There are many conditions that require a splenectomy, the most common called ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura), low platelet count of an unknown cause. Hemolytic anemia (breakdown of red blood cells) is another common reason for spleen removal, as are hereditary diseases that alter the shape of red blood cells.
Laparoscopic splenectomies are now routinely performed instead of "open" procedures for most planned surgeries. Using the laparoscopic method, patients usually experience less postoperative pain, better cosmetic results, a quicker return to normal activity, a shorter hospital stay and a faster return to a regular diet.
Though most patients are candidates for the laparoscopic procedure, in certain cases like emergency splenectomies or instances of abdominal trauma, the "open" technique is preferred. Obesity, previous history of abdominal surgery, or an extremely large spleen can all make a laparoscopic splenectomy less feasible.