Splenectomy (Removal of the Spleen)
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Why the Spleen May Need to be Removed
The spleen has many jobs. It stores extra blood, it acts as a filter for blood, and it helps fight infection. Pets and people can live without a spleen. Spleens can be removed because of trauma, a mass or torsion. Without a spleen, lymph nodes will take over most of the spleens vital duties. Pets can have splenic masses for a long time before we are aware. Splenic masses are very vascular and will leak blood into the abdomen causing a swollen appearance or fainting due to abrupt changes in blood pressure. Generally, by the time we see swelling or fainting, the mass has grown quite large. An enlarged spleen can be discovered either by palpation by a veterinarian, an x- ray or ultrasound.
The signs you might see generally are vague and vary such as weight loss, swollen abdomen, lethargy, decreased appetite, fainting spells, or they just seem “not quite right”. It is important to see your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis, as these signs can mean any number of problems.
If the spleen is removed due to trauma or torsion, most pets have a good prognosis. If the spleen is removed because there is a mass, we worry that the tumor may have already spread to other parts of the body. A chest x- ray and/ or abdominal ultrasound can look for spread prior to surgery. Surgery may not be indicated if spread has already occurred and/or may decrease your pet’s chances for a full recovery.
Splenectomies Performed at Helping Hands
Although rare, immediate post -op concerns for having the spleen removed are internal bleeding, blood clots leading to stroke, heart arrhythmias or infection. One potential long-term concern for these pets would be a higher risk for infections.
Having the spleen removed (splenectomy) is a high risk surgery but we perform splenectomies successfully often at Helping Hands. If you have been told your pet needs a blood transfusion, that will need to be performed by your regular veterinarian or at a 24 hour emergency hospital. Helping Hands does not offer blood transfusions or any diagnostics.
Bloodwork ($100) is required for your pet. The bloodwork we perform at Helping Hands shows us basic organ function values (kidney and liver) to help make the safest choices for anesthesia. The bloodwork we perform at Helping Hands is not diagnostic. It is always recommended that you discuss surgery and sedation with your primary veterinarian that has followed your pet’s health if you have any concerns. It is important to remember there is always risk when sedating any living animal.
We are an outpatient facility which means the pets go home the same day. While a lot of our clients take their pets home after surgery, we always recommend you talk to your veterinarian to see if they recommend overnight monitoring be performed with them or an emergency hospital. We always encourage owners to consider a transfer for post-op care after surgery.
If so, you can return to your full service veterinarian or a 24-hour facility for continued care at your expense. We are here to get your pet through the surgery and back into the hands of your full service veterinarian.
We are here to get your pet through surgery and back into the hands of either your veterinarian or any 24 hour emergency hospital for post- op care. We are simply one piece of the puzzle.