Splenectomy is both a therapeutic and diagnostic procedure.
The goal of the splenectomy procedure is to remove the entire spleen and associated splenic mass.
How is the splenectomy done, and what happens after the spleen is removed?
At the time of surgery, the entire abdomen is explored to evaluate for any other organ abnormalities and evidence of metastasis (cancer spread). If any additional abnormalities are found, the abnormal tissues are biopsied to determine the underlying cause. The spleen and any other tissues sampled are submitted for histopathologic analysis to determine the underlying cause for the splenic mass. This information helps you and your veterinary care team understand prognosis and create an optimal follow-up care plan after surgery. If the splenic mass was benign, then surgery was curative. If the splenic mass was a malignant cancer, then follow-up treatment with chemotherapy is recommended to prolong survival times.
Dogs that present unstable, pale, with blood in the abdomen, often require emergency stabilization and supportive care before, during, and after surgery. This includes bloodwork, blood pressure monitoring, and EKG monitoring, aggressive fluid therapy, and possible blood transfusions.
Some studies have shown that after splenectomy, dogs are at a higher risk for developing a life-threatening twist of the stomach called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus syndrome (GDV or “Bloat”). The surgical procedure to prevent the development of GDV is called a gastropexy. We recommend that all dogs with additional risk factors for GDV (large/giant, deep-chested breeds) have a gastropexy performed at the time of splenectomy to reduce this risk.
POST OPERATIVE CARE PLANNING
FOR A SPLENECTOMY PROCEDURE:
Stable, uncomplicated splenectomy patients can typically go home the same day of surgery.
Dogs that present unstable often require one or more days of hospitalization and supportive care before going home.
E-collar at all times for 2 weeks, until skin incision check.
Exercise restriction for 2 weeks: no off-leash activity allowed, no play, no jumping on/off furniture
Pain medication will be prescribed.
Results of histopathology will be discussed in 3-5 days after surgery, and results sent to your family veterinarian.
If you are interested in pursuing chemotherapy, we suggest making an appointment with a veterinary oncologist.