What is a spleen?

A spleen is an organ situated in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It functions to filter the blood in our body removing abnormal cells from it. In addition to this it also plays a fart in forming our immune system.

Is it normal to feel my spleen or mass in the left side of my abdomen?

It is not normal to feel any mass in your abdomen. If you can feel something, this needs to be examined by a specialist. If you can feel your spleen it generally means your spleen is at least 3 times larger than normal.

What is a splenectomy?

A splenectomy is surgery to remove the spleen. This in most instances can be done with laparoscopic or “key hole” surgery

Spleen anatomy splenectomy

Who needs a splenectomy?

A splenectomy may be needed in patients with certain haematological disorders such as (thrombocytopenia or myelofibrosis). Some patients may need it as part of another operation like a distal pancreatectomy.
Occasionally a person might need an emergency splenectomy; in most instances this is due to a trauma. These patients will need an open splenectomy

My doctor says that I will need vaccinations prior to surgery?

This is correct. If you are going to have a splenectomy you need to have vaccinations for meningococcal C, Haemophilus Influenza B and Pneumococcus. This should be given at least 1-2 weeks before surgery.
If you have had to have an emergency splenectomy, you will need to be given your vaccinations at least 1 week after your surgery.
In victoria you will need to be registered with the splenic registry. Please click on the link for further information – https://spleen.org.au/VSR/Index.html