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After Laparoscopic Splenectomy

You have had surgery to remove your spleen (called splenectomy). The spleen sits in the upper left part of your abdomen. It stores red blood cells, filters blood, and helps fight infection. To take it out, your healthcare provider made 3 or 4 small incisions in your abdomen. Surgical tools were then inserted through these incisions. This sheet will help as you recover at home.

Activity

  • Ask for help with chores and errands while you get better.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.

  • Don’t do strenuous activity. Build up your activity levels as you heal.

Incision care

  • Check your incisions daily for signs of infection. Look for redness, swelling, and fluid leaking from the incision. Infection may also cause the edges of an incision to open up.

  • Shower carefully. Keep the incision dry. Don't soak in a bath until the incision is healed or until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

  • Wash your incision gently. Use mild soap and warm water. Pat dry.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine as instructed

  • Check your temperature each day for 7 days after the surgery. Call your healthcare provider if your temperature is higher than 100.4°F (38°C), or as directed by your provider. 

  • Gradually return to a regular diet as you feel able to. It's important for healing to eat a healthy diet.

  • If you are constipated from pain medicine, take a fiber supplement and or stool softener as prescribed. Talk with your healthcare provider about any symptoms that don't go away.

Preventing and treating infections

You have a higher risk of infection now because you don’t have a spleen. You are especially at high risk for infections from some bacteria, such as certain types of pneumonia and meningitis. There are ways to manage this risk. These include:

  • Take antibiotic medicine as directed by your healthcare provider. This helps stop infection. Take all of this medicine until it's gone, even if you feel better.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about what vaccines you should have. Most people who have elective splenectomy get vaccines against a certain type of bacteria before surgery. These vaccines need to be updated every 5 to 10 years. 

  • See your healthcare provider even for mild illnesses. These include colds or sinus problems. Your healthcare provider may want to give you antibiotics and watch your health.

  • Tell all of your healthcare providers that you have had your spleen taken out. This includes your dentist, primary healthcare provider, and nurse practitioner.

  • Wear a medical alert ID bracelet that says you don’t have a spleen.

When to call your healthcare provider 

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Any unusual bleeding

  • Nausea or vomiting that doesn’t get better

  • Pain, warmth, drainage, or redness in the skin around the incisions that gets worse

  • Incisions that open up or pull apart

Online Medical Reviewer: Jen Lehrer MD
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2022
© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.