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Splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your spleen — an organ that sits under your rib cage on the left side of your abdomen. The spleen helps fight infection and filters unneeded material, such as old or damaged blood cells. Although your bone marrow produces most of your blood products, the spleen also produces red blood cells and certain types of white blood cells.

The most common reason for splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen, often caused by an abdominal injury. Splenectomy may be used to treat other conditions, including enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), some blood disorders, certain cancers, infection, and noncancerous cysts or tumors.

Splenectomy is most commonly performed using a tiny video camera and special surgical tools (laparoscopic splenectomy).

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Splenectomy is used to treat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Your doctor may recommend splenectomy if you have one of the following:

  • Ruptured spleen. If your spleen ruptures due to a severe abdominal injury or because of enlargement of your spleen (splenomegaly), the result may be life-threatening, internal bleeding. Splenectomy is frequently required to treat a ruptured spleen.
  • Blood disorder. Severe cases of certain blood disorders, such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), polycythemia vera, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, may require splenectomy. But splenectomy is typically used only after other treatments have failed to reduce the symptoms of these disorders.
  • Cancer. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are cancers that can affect the spleen. If cancer is found in the spleen, or if spleen enlargement occurs as a result of cancer, your spleen may need to be removed. Splenectomy also is often used as treatment for hairy cell leukemia.
  • Infection. A severe infection or a large collection of pus surrounded by inflammation (abscess) within your spleen that doesn't respond to other treatment may require splenectomy.
  • Cyst or tumor. Noncancerous cysts or tumors inside the spleen may require splenectomy if they become large or are difficult to remove completely.

Although it's uncommon, your doctor may recommend splenectomy if your spleen is enlarged and no cause for the enlargement can be found using diagnostic tests such as blood work or imaging exams.

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