Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Author Question: Surgical Spleen Removal

Amanda Asks:

I have a character who was shot in the side, not life threatening, but he had to have surgery to remove his spleen as well as the bullet because some rib fragments damaged his spleen.

My question is how long would he be in the hospital after surgery? I'm sure when he first comes home he'll be getting around in a wheelchair or something while he heals and gets his strength back. When could I plausibly have him on his feet slowly walking around? I don't want any dramatic complications with his injury or anything. He's going to heal up great and be perfectly fine afterward.

Jordyn Says:

I ran this question by some of my nursing cohorts who focus in adult surgery.

Having your spleen removed would require a couple days stay in an intensive care unit. This would be due to risk of post-surgical bleeding and concern for infection.

The surgical nurse I spoke to said these patients are up and walking by the time they come to the floor so there would be no need for the character to use a wheelchair.

Once research point that is helpful with this question is that you can Google search for discharge instructions regarding many kinds of operations. For this one, I searched for Home Care Instructions after Spleen Removal. This document gives excellent information that can be translated into your novel.

For instance-- how long the patient should expect to have pain. Driving and lifting restrictions which can help determine what they would physically be capable of in your novel.

FYI-- patients who have had their spleens removed are at more risk of serious infection. Your spleen is part of your immune system. So some infections that would normally not be a big deal for the general population can be life threatening to those who have had their spleen removed.


  1. Thank you for satisfying my curiosity. I have sarcoidosis and sometimes I have super horrible pain from it. It is fine now but I have wondered about this because I have been warned to go to ER if the pain starts moving. Nothing showed up on two CT scans about so I guess and hope that it is OK!

    1. Great info, Jordyn and congrats on your LIS win!

    2. Thank you, Erin! Excited to be part of the LI family.

  2. I know this was a gunshot wound, which would mean an open exploratory, but I wanted to chime in to say that when it's planned, it's possible to have your spleen removed laprascopically.

    I had to have mine removed to put my ITP in remission. I stayed in the hospital a week because I had complications, but I should have been able to go home in 2 to 3 days. I also was on the regular unit - no ICU.