Surgical Removal Of The Spleen
A splenectomy is usually performed if the spleen has become irreparably damaged (often as a result of a traumatic injury) and often is carried out as an emergency procedure. If the spleen is ruptured (as a result of trauma), the organ needs to be removed to stem blood loss due to internal haemorrhage which could quickly become fatal if left untreated. An emergency, life-saving treatment may be seen as a benefit of removal of the spleen, of course, but it may be needed to treat other conditions, in a non-emergency context, including certain blood disorders, infection, certain cancers and non-cancerous tumours or cysts and to treat splenomeagly (an enlarged spleen).
Any surgical intervention has risks associated with it, such as infection or a reaction to anaesthesia. A spelenectomy is associated with risks of bleeding, blood clots (which may travel to remote parts of the body (eg heart, brain, lungs etc)) or trauma to adjacent organs (stomach, pancreas and colon).
It is widely believed that removal of the spleen is not a critical issue since the organ’s functions can be carried out by other tissues. However, patients are at increased risk from infection from some bacteria (eg streptococcus pneumoniae, Neisseria meningitidis, and Haemophilus influenzae) and may require vaccinations or antibiotic medication to protect them from these illnesses.