Having your spleen removed does not make it more likely that you’ll get the flu, common cold, or other viral infections. Yet, having your spleen removed may increase the chances of serious illness or even death if you get certain types of infections. Although the chances that this will occur are small, if it does happen it can be very serious.
- You will receive the Pneumovax (Pneumococcal vaccine) before surgery or before you leave the hospital. The purpose of this vaccine is to help protect you from many types of bacteria that can cause infections. If you have had this vaccine, it may need to be repeated every five years. Check with your doctor.
- Meningococcal and Haemophilus type B are two other types of bacterial vaccines that may be given.
- The annual flu (influenza) shot is advised.
- You are advised to wear a MedicAlert bracelet or necklace and carry a wallet card stating you have no spleen. Inform all new healthcare professionals, including dentists that your spleen was removed.
- MedicAlert Foundation International2323 Colorado Ave. / Turlock, CA 95382
- Your primary care provider may want you to have a supply of antibiotics, most often penicillin, with you at all times. Check with your primary care provider. You should carry this drug with you when you travel, especially to places where you may not have quick access to health care.
- You Should Seek Medical Attention Right Away if you have a temperature of 100.4°F or greater for two readings taken 4 hours apart. Also, seek immediate care if you have flu-like symptoms such as chills, rigors (a violent attack of uncontrollable shivering) and/or body aches.
- If you plan to travel, you need to know if you will be exposed to malaria. Consult your doctor. You should ALWAYS take medicine to prevent a malaria infection.
- Avoid bites and scratches from dogs or cats. Protect yourself from getting tick bites. The microorganisms that dogs, cats, and ticks carry can sometimes cause a serious infection after a splenectomy. See a doctor if a dog, cat, or tick bites you.
The Day before Surgery you may need to take a laxative to prepare for surgery. We will discuss the details with you.
As you and the health care team feel comfortable, you will be allowed to eat. You may start slowly with clear liquids (items like juice, broth, popsicles, etc), but will be able to eat real food in a few days.
When you start eating, go slowly and only eat what feels and tastes good. If you begin to feel sick to your stomach or full, you should stop eating. A member from the health care team will let you know when your diet has been changed.
Expect pain after surgery. Your pain pills will help manage the pain. If you had laparoscopic surgery, you may have pain in your neck and shoulders from the gas in your abdomen during surgery. Walking may help to decrease this pain.
- Keep your incisions dry for 2 days. Three days after surgery you may shower.
- Small areas of bruising at your incision sites are common.
- Check your wounds daily and report problems such as:
- Increased redness, swelling or warmth
- Drainage such as blood or pus
- Temperature over 100.4° F by mouth for two readings taken 4 hours apart
- Excess bruising
- Walking is good exercise for you after surgery. Do not do any other exercising until after talking with your doctor.
- No driving while taking narcotic pain pills.
- You will have a limit on how much you can lift; we will discuss the details with you.
- Check with your doctor before you return to work.
- Sex may be resumed when you feel ready.
- Avoid all tobacco including second hand smoke.
When to Call the Doctor
- Temperature over 100.4 ºF by mouth, for two readings taken 4 hours apart
- Cough or shortness of breath
- Problems eating or drinking
- Increased swelling of the abdomen
- Nausea or vomiting that does not go away
- Increased redness, pain, bleeding or pus at the incisions
- Pain not controlled by pain pills
- If you have not had a bowel movement 3 days after surgery, you may need a laxative.
Surgery Clinic: (608) 263-7502. This is a 24 hour number.
After hours, weekends and holidays ask for the doctor on call for Dr.______________ Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.
Toll Free: 1 800-323-8942
Note to staff: please give Health Facts for You #4560, Medications & Immunization, with this handout.
The Spanish version of this HFFY is #5982.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/03/2013
Copyright © 07/03/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4313
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