Understanding the Spleen

The spleen is an organ about the size of a fist, that’s located under your rib-cage, near the stomach. The job of the spleen is to help with the immune system by sending white blood cells to fight bacteria and infections. Additionally, it makes red blood cells that clean out the old blood cells from your body’s system. If the spleen ruptures or is in danger from cancer, blood disorders, or a disease like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), it may be best to remove the spleen.


The removal of your spleen is called a spleenectomy. The entire spleen can be removed, or you can have a partial spleenectomy. Spleenectomies can be done as emergency surgery, or they can be done after evaluation by a doctor that includes tests like a chest x-ray, EKG, MRI, or CT.

Some spleenectomies can be done as laparoscopic procedures. This means we use very small incisions, which generally result in shorter recovery time and less pain. In some cases, the spleen may need to be removed in an “open” surgery, which involves one large incision. Either type of surgery will involve general anesthesia, so you will be asleep the whole time.

Do you have questions about spleenectomies?

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