The Ascendance of Laparoscopic Splenectomy

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Surgeon






The application of laparoscopic techniques for abdominal procedures has been achieved with varying success. The general acceptance of laparoscopic splenectomy (LS) may be hindered by its infrequent performance and difficulty in manipulating the spleen. A retrospective review of splenectomies performed for primary splenic pathology was done to assess the role and outcome of LS. One hundred fifty LSs were performed from July 1995 through September 1999. Over that time period the proportion of LS performed increased steadily from 17 to 75 per cent of all splenectomies. The primary indications for splenectomy included immune thrombocytopenic purpura in 75 (50%), lymphoma/leukemia 36 (24%), and splenomegaly 19 (13%). There were 86 females and 64 males. Immediately before operation 36 patients (4%) had a platelet count <50,000/ mL, and 24 patients (16%) a hemoglobin <10 mg per cent. The mean operative time was 161 minutes with an average blood loss of 138 cm3 (<50-800). The mean morcellated weight of the entire group was 411 g (33-3300) indicating generally large splenic size. In the 37 patients with splenomegaly the mean weight was 735 g (293-3300). There were two conversions to open splenectomy. Two patients with hematologic malignancy, splenomegaly, and cytopenias died from overwhelming post-splenectomy sepsis (1.3%). Morbidity occurred in 14 (9%) with the most common complication being pancreatitis in seven (5%). The median length of postoperative stay was 2.4 days (range 1-5). In summary LS has rapidly replaced the open approach for nearly all elective splenectomies in adults and children. When performed with the patient in the lateral position it can be accomplished with minimal morbidity, even in complex patients, including those with splenomegaly.

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