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What are the possible long-term consequences of a splenectomy?

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Quick Answer

A spleen removal, or splenectomy, interferes with the body’s ability to resist bacterial infections, making patients highly susceptible to serious illnesses, such as meningitis, influenza and pneumonia, WebMD states. Young children are most vulnerable and often need a daily antibiotic regimen to avoid infections. More than ever, patients have to be responsible about following a doctor’s recommendations for ongoing flu vaccinations, and they must keep antibiotics on hand when traveling internationally or visiting areas without nearby medical help.

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Full Answer

The rapid onset of bacteria-related illness is known as overwhelming post-splenectomy infection, which leads to mortality in almost 50 percent of cases, according to WebMD. Other serious complications may include infection or hernia at the surgical site, collapsed lungs and pancreatic inflammation. Some patients are also at risk of suffering a blood clot in a major vein that leads to the liver.

A person without a spleen may have trouble recovering from infections, so doctors may recommend long-term antibiotics for adults who also have other immunodeficiencies, Mayo Clinic notes. Individuals have to keep caregivers informed of their condition and stay alert to warning signs of infection, such as a fever above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a persistent cold or red, tender spots on the body. In some cases, they may need to a medical alert bracelet, so practitioners and emergency rescue workers know what precautions to take.

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