Splenectomy for thalassemia

The spleen's job is to remove old and damaged red blood cells. When red blood cells that are weakened due to thalassemia pass through the spleen, they are often destroyed. This can leave the body with too few red blood cells.

Removing the spleen during surgery (splenectomy) can help lower the number of red blood cells that are lost. Also, doctors sometimes remove a spleen that has gotten bigger because of thalassemia and is causing you pain.

  • Splenectomy usually is not done on children younger than age 11.
  • You may need to take regular doses of antibiotics to prevent infections after your spleen is removed. Without your spleen, you are more prone to infections.
  • To prevent infection later, ask your doctor about getting a shot of pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax) before you have your spleen taken out.

Last Updated: July 8, 2009

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