The spleen is part of the blood filtering process and is involved in both production and destruction of certain types of blood cells. Removal of the spleen is sometimes necessary for certain blood disorders involving red blood cells or platelets, intrinsic problems of the spleen, traumatic injury or if the spleen is enlarged from infective/inflammatory processes.
Splenectomy is often done laparoscopically but may sometimes have to be performed as an open operation. The size of the spleen can be an important factor in this decision which can be made either before the operation or during the procedure. In the laparoscopic approach, you are put under general anaesthesia and 3-4 small cuts on the tummy are used to introduce instruments into the abdomen and release the spleen from its attachments before removing it from the body.
As the spleen is important in fighting infection, not having a spleen might affect immunity and predispose you to certain bacterial infections. To help prevent this, vaccinations are provided a few weeks prior to the operation. Some patients may also need to be on a lifelong prescription of antibiotics following the procedure.