Health & Medical Immune System Disorders

What Happens If You Lose Your Spleen?

    Spleen Function

    • The spleen is a fist-shaped organ that is an important part of the immune system. It is protected by the lower portion of your ribs on the left side of your abdomen. The spleen is a blood filter, removing damaged or diseased cells from the blood stream. It also creates lymphocytes, which are cells that protect us from infections. In case of large-volume blood loss, the spleen stores extra red blood cells to be distributed when needed.

    Spleen Removal

    • According to the National Institutes of Health, removal of the spleen takes place if it has been ruptured due to injury, or because of disease like sickle cell anemia, or because of a cancerous tumor. It can be removed by traditional surgical methods or with the less invasive laparoscopic method.

    Consequences

    • Once the spleen is removed, an important part of the immune system is gone. Consequently, infections are more common than before the injury and removal. According to the Department of Surgical Education at the Orlando Regional Medical Center, patients who have had their spleens removed may need booster vaccinations against pneumonia, hemophilus influenza type b (HIb), and meningitis. They may also be prescribed a regimen of antibiotics as a preventative measure against infection. The liver takes over the blood filtering function once the spleen is gone.

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