HealthSheets™


Discharge Instructions for Open Splenectomy

Your healthcare provider performed an open splenectomy, the surgical removal of your spleen through a single incision in your belly. Located in the upper left portion of your belly, your spleen stored red blood cells, filtered your blood and helped your body fight infection. Here's what you need to do at home following an open splenectomy.

Activity

Recommendations include the following:

  • Increase your activity gradually. Take short walks on a level surface.

  • Don’t overexert yourself to the point of fatigue. If you become tired, rest.

  • Climb steps slowly and stop to rest every few steps.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or push a vacuum cleaner for 6 weeks after surgery.

  • Don’t drive until after your first healthcare provider’s appointment after your surgery.

  • If you ride in a car for more than short trips, stop often to stretch your legs.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about when you can expect to return to work.

Preventing infection

Tips to prevent infection include the following:

  • Remember, you have a higher risk of infection because you don’t have a spleen.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines because you will be more prone to infection after the surgery. Most people who have elective splenectomy get vaccines against encapsulated bacteria before surgery. These vaccines need to be updated every 5 to 10 years. 

  • Get medical attention even for mild illnesses, such as sinus problems or colds.

  • Take antibiotic medicine after surgery as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Be sure to tell all your healthcare providers (such as dentist, primary healthcare provider, and nurse practitioner) that you don’t have a spleen.

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

Other home care

Other suggestions include the following:

  • Shower or bathe as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Wash your incision site with soap and water and pat dry.

  • Check your incision every day for redness, drainage, swelling, or separation of the skin.

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Don’t take any over-the-counter medicine unless your healthcare provider tells you to do so.

  • Check your temperature each day for 1 week after your surgery.

  • Return to your regular diet as tolerated. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.

 

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

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

  • Any unusual bleeding

  • Increased pain, warmth, redness, or drainage in or around your incision

  • Incision that opens up or pulls apart

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