Discharge Instructions for Open Splenectomy

Your surgeon performed an open splenectomy. This is the surgical removal of your spleen through a single incision in your belly. The spleen is located in the upper left portion of your belly. It stores red blood cells, filters your blood, and helps your body fight infection. Here's what you need to do at home after an open splenectomy.


Follow this advice:

  • Increase your activity slowly. 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.

  • Don't drive if you're taking opioid pain medicines.

  • 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:

  • 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. This is especially true for infections from bacteria such as those that cause pneumonia and meningitis. Most people who have elective splenectomy get vaccines against these and other bacteria before surgery. These vaccines need to be updated every 5 to 10 years. 

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

  • Take antibiotic medicine after surgery as directed by your 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:

  • 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.

  • Prevent constipation and straining. Eat a high-fiber diet, hydrate well, and use a stool softener if needed. Your provider may give you advice on how to prevent constipation.

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 abnormal bleeding

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

  • Incision that opens up or pulls apart

© 2000-2024 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.
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