A Splenectomy is a surgery that involves the removal of the entire spleen due to damage caused by trauma or tumors, which is most often performed on dogs.
Splenic tumors are more common in certain large breed dogs such as German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers and found more frequently in older dogs.
Splenectomy is indicated by a number of conditions, including but not limited to:
- Damage or trauma to the spleen (car accidents, fights)
- Splenic tumors/masses
- Splenic torsion (restricted blood flow to the spleen)
Diagnosis of conditions that may indicate a splenectomy procedure involves an extensive physical examination. In addition diagnostic blood work, x-rays, biopsy, and abdominocentesis may be indicated.
If a patient presents with a ruptured spleen prior to surgery, the dog’s condition must be stabilized with IV fluids and blood transfusions before proceeding with the splenectomy.
In a damaged yet un-ruptured spleen, the surgeon will remove any tumors/damaged tissue along with the affected spleen under general anesthesia. A splenectomy is a very involved procedure, and excessive bleeding is always a concern, which is why blood transfusions are often indicated even in less severe cases.
All splenectomy patients will need to spend a minimum of 1-2 days in the hospital following the procedure under close medical supervision. Depending on the case, IV fluids and/or blood transfusions may be indicated during this critical recovery period.
Once home, the patient should be kept quiet with no running, jumping or playing for 7-14 days. Attention should be paid to make sure that the dog is not licking/chewing at its sutures, which can lead to severe infection.
If your pet had a malignant tumor that was removed along with the spleen, additional treatment will be needed, including chemotherapy drugs and radiation.
Call your veterinarian if you notice symptoms such as:
- Decreased appetite more than 3-4 days following the surgery.
- Lethargy more than 3-4 days following the surgery.
- Bloating and/or painful abdomen.
- Foul odor or discharge (pus) at the incision site.
- Excessive (a slight bit is normal) or active bleeding at the incision site.