Because red blood cells get destroyed in the spleen, your child’s condition may be helped by removing all or part of their spleen. This surgery is called a splenectomy or partial splenectomy.
Removing part or all of the spleen slows down how fast red blood cells break down. This improves red blood cell levels and reduces the risk of gallstones.
Some children with hereditary spherocytosis never need their spleen removed. It depends on their red blood cell level and other symptoms.
Because the spleen helps fight certain bacterial infections, doctors try to delay this surgery until your child is at least 5 years old. The goal of removing part – rather than all – of the spleen is to leave enough of the spleen tissue to help fight these certain bacterial infections.
In most cases, our surgeons can do laparoscopic surgery. They remove part of the spleen through small incisions with the aid of a tiny camera, rather than through a large cut.
In some children, the part of the spleen that remains grows larger. If that happens, they need another surgery to remove the whole spleen. Some families choose to have the whole spleen removed at the first surgery. Our team can discuss the pros and cons of these approaches and can arrange for you to have a clinic visit with a surgeon to learn more details.
Without a spleen, the risk of infection is higher. After surgery, your doctor will explain how to help avoid infections and what symptoms to watch for. Fever can be an emergency. It is important to keep immunizations up to date after a splenectomy.