The spleen is an organ found in the upper abdominal cavity responsible for storing red blood cells and special white blood cells. It plays a vital role in immunity - helping the body identify and destroy bacteria and filtering the blood and removing damaged blood cells from the body.
Splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove your spleen. The most common reason for splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen as a result of abdominal trauma; a splenectomy may also be done for other reasons such as an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), infection, lymphoma or certain types of leukaemia, and non-cancerous cysts or tumours. Since the spleen can affect the red and white blood count in the body, when non-surgical treatments of thrombocytopenia, genetic blood disorders and other haematological conditions like hemolytic anaemia, fail a splenectomy may be needed.
It is possible to live without a spleen as the body can take over most of its functions over time. However, you will, however, be more susceptible to infection, and those without a spleen may also have a harder time recovering from an illness or injury.
Reasons for surgery
- As treatment for cancers such as lymphocytic leukaemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and hairy cell leukaemia
- To remove a ruptured spleen or enlarged spleen
- For the treatment of noncancerous abscesses, cysts or tumours in the spleen
- As the management of thrombocytopenia (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura) and other haematological conditions
While complications after surgery are rare, it is important that you are aware of them. Complications may include:
- Internal bleeding
- Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
- Overwhelming Post-Splenectomy Infection (OPSI) – this is a common occurrence after a splenectomy as a result of the absence of this organ to fight off infection. This risk can be avoided by giving you immunization before you have your spleen removed.
Be sure to call your physician or surgeon if you notice any signs of infection after surgery, including:
- Fever and chills
- Bleeding or redness that seems to be worsening around your incisions
- Abdominal swelling
- Intense pain
Operating from the new state-of-the-art, multi-disciplinary facility equipped with only the most advanced medical technology,
As one of only two such robots in the Western Cape, Dr Kavin operates from a hospital boasting Robotic Surgery capabilities,
As a surgeon with adept skill in minimally invasive techniques, Dr Kavin opts for laparoscopic keyhole surgery whenever possible.
Dr Bruce Kavin is a General Surgeon with particular expertise in Endocrine, Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Surgery and Surgical Oncology.