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Discharge Instructions for Splenectomy

A splenectomy is surgery to remove the spleen. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to heal. Home care and medicine will help.

Steps to Take

Home Care

To care for the incision:

  • Keep it clean and dry.
  • Wash your hands before and after changing the bandages.
  • Clean it as you were taught by your care team.
  • Change your bandages as you were taught.
  • You can shower, bathe, or soak in water when your care team has said it is safe.

Carry a medical ID card or wear an alert bracelet. Let all your doctors know that you have had your spleen removed.

Physical Activity

You will have some limits as you heal:

  • Do not lift things that are heavier than a gallon of milk.
  • You can go back to normal activities when the doctor says it is okay.
  • Go back to work when the doctor says it is safe.
  • Do not drive until the doctor says it is okay.

Medications

You may have stopped taking medicine before surgery. You can take them again when your care team has said it is okay.

Medicine may be needed to ease pain. Antibiotics may be given to treat infection.

Take all the antibiotics you are given. Do this even when you are feeling well.

When taking medicine:

  • Take it as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than 1, including over the counter products and supplements.

Follow-up

Your risk of infection is higher without a spleen. Vaccines will be needed to lower the risk of things like pneumonia and flu.

Your doctor will need to check on your progress. Be sure to go to all appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occur

Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge
  • More pain or swelling in your belly
  • Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
  • Lasting nausea or vomiting
  • Problems that get worse

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
https://www.familydoctor.org

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Caring for Kids—Canadian Paediatric Society
http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada
http://www.cfpc.ca

REFERENCES:

Patient education: wound care. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated June 15, 2018. Accessed February 4, 2020.

Patient information for laparoscopic spleen removal (splenectomy) from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-spleen-removal-splenectomy-from-sages. Updated March 1, 2015. Accessed February 4, 2020.

Splenectomy. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/splenectomy-spleen-removal. Updated July 11, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2020.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD  Last Updated: 2/9/2021