Spleen

Laparoscopic spleen surgery in Santa Barbara, California

The spleen is an organ located in the upper left portion of the abdomen, behind the stomach. Its function is to filter the blood. If your physician diagnoses any of the following diseases, it may be necessary to remove your spleen (splenectomy): acute and chronic leukemia, cysts, primary splenic thrombocytopenia, idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), primary splenic neutropenia, Felty’s syndrome, Banti’s disease, congestive splenomegaly, splenic tumors, splenic artery aneurysms, lymphomas, thrombolytic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP), HIV splenomegaly, splenomegaly, splenocytosis, or a variety of anemias. Dr. David Thoman specializes in minimally invasive laparoscopic gastrointestinal surgery, including splenectomy in Santa Barbara, California. Additionally, he is one of the few surgeons to successfully remove spleens ruptured from trauma.

  • Quotes

    The entire process for me was smooth and rewarding.
    — SH
  • How is laparoscopic splenectomy performed?

    Dr. Thoman uses a laparoscope, which is connected to a tiny video camera, to see inside the body. During surgery he inserts the laparoscope through a small incision in the abdomen and inflates the abdomen with carbon dioxide to enable him to see more clearly. He makes 2 or 3 additional small incisions near the laparoscope through which he inserts very small, specialized instruments. Dr. Thoman uses these instruments to remove the spleen. The spleen is then placed into a special plastic bag inserted into the abdomen. The bag and spleen are then squeezed out through one of the small holes. This prevents the organ from leaking into the body. Following the procedure, the small incisions are closed with absorbable sutures and covered with surgical glue. The tiny scars are barely noticeable after only a few months.

    What are the benefits of laparoscopic splenectomy?

    The benefits of laparoscopic splenectomy include:

    • Three or four tiny scars instead of one large abdominal scar.
    • Lower risk of hernia.
    • Shorter hospital stay — most patients leave the next day.
    • Reduced pain after surgery.
    • Shorter recovery time and quicker return to daily activities, including work.
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  • What can I expect after surgery?

    Recovery required after laparoscopic splenectomy is usually very minimal. Most people are up walking and taking care of themselves within hours of surgery. Some patients experience abdominal soreness, but it is typically mild and lasts only a few days to 2 weeks. Because the small incisions don’t burst open like the single large incision of traditional open surgery, you can return to full activity as tolerated. In general, there are no restrictions with lifting or exercising.

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  • How safe is laparoscopic splenectomy?

    If performed by a highly trained and experienced surgeon, such as Dr. David Thoman, with specialized training in this field, laparoscopic splenectomy is as safe as “open” surgery. In fact, many studies have shown laparoscopic splenectomy to have fewer complications, and it is now the “gold standard.” Many surgeons still consider a large spleen too difficult to remove laparoscopically, but Dr. Thoman has rarely found this to be the case. Very large spleens have unique risks, but can also be safely removed through the same small holes.