- Following activity, dietary and lifestyle restrictions and recommendations before surgery and during recovery
- Informing your doctor if you are nursing or there is any possibility of pregnancy
- Notifying your doctor immediately of any concerns, such as bleeding, fever, increase in pain, or wound redness, swelling or drainage
- Taking your medications exactly as directed
- Telling all members of your care team if you have any allergies
How do I prepare for my splenectomy?
You are any important member of your own healthcare team. The steps you take before surgery can improve your comfort and outcome.
You can prepare for splenectomy by:
- Answering all questions about your medical history and medications. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, herbal treatments, and vitamins. It is a good idea to carry a current list of your medical conditions, medications, and allergies at all times.
- Following diet restrictions as directed by your doctor. This may include a low-fiber or liquid diet for a few days before surgery. Your doctor will restrict eating or drinking just prior to surgery. Your doctor may cancel your surgery if you eat or drink too close to the start of the procedure due to a risk of complications. These include choking on stomach contents during general anesthesia.
- Getting any vaccines or blood transfusions as directed. These may help protect your body as it adjusts to working without a spleen.
- Getting preoperative testing as directed. Testing will vary depending on your age, health, and specific procedure. Preoperative testing may include a chest X-ray, EKG (electrocardiogram), blood tests, and other tests as needed.
- Losing excess weight before the surgery through a healthy diet and exercise plan
- Not eating or drinking before surgery as directed. Your surgery may be cancelled if you eat or drink too close to the start of surgery because you can choke on stomach contents during anesthesia.
- Stopping smoking as soon as possible. Even quitting for just a few days can be beneficial and help the healing process.
- Showering as directed before the surgery
- Taking or stopping medications exactly as directed. This may include not taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and blood thinners. You may also need to take antibiotics, enemas, or a special bowel preparation medication before surgery to reduce the number of bacteria in the colon. Your doctor will give you instructions for taking your medications and supplements.
Questions to ask your doctor
Facing surgery can be stressful. It is common for patients to forget some of their questions during a brief doctor’s office visit. You may also think of other questions after your appointment. Contact your doctor with concerns and questions before surgery and between appointments.
It is also a good idea to bring a list of questions to your appointments. Questions can include:
- Why do I need splenectomy? Are there any other options for treating my condition?
- What type of splenectomy procedure will I need?
- How long will the procedure take? When can I go home?
- What kind of diet can I eat after surgery?
- What restrictions will I have after the surgery? When can I return to work and other activities?
- What kind of assistance will I need at home?
- Will I need physical therapy or rehabilitation?
- How will splenectomy affect my immune system? What precautions will I need to take?
- How should I take my medications?
- How will you treat my pain?
- When should I follow up with you?
- How should I contact you? Ask for numbers to call during and after regular office hours.
What can I expect after my splenectomy?
Knowing what to expect can help make your road to recovery after splenectomy as smooth as possible.
How long will it take to recover?
You will stay in the recovery room after surgery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.
When you wake up, you may have a tube in your mouth or nose into your stomach. This tube releases air and drains fluid from your stomach until your body is able to process these substances by itself again. You may have a sore throat if a tube was placed in your windpipe during surgery. This is usually temporary, but tell your care team if you are uncomfortable.