A splenectomy is the surgical removal of the spleen. There are two types of splenectomies -- the traditional open approach, using a full size incision, and the laparoscopic approach, which uses several very small incisions. Laparoscopic surgery is often referred to as minimally invasive surgery.
The laparoscopic procedure is the most common of the two splenectomy procedures and is typically used when possible by the surgeon. The procedure uses several small incisions and is often referred to as minimally invasive surgery. Due to the incision size, the laparoscopic approach minimizes both the pain of recovery and the risk of infection.
Not all patients’ anatomy or spleen conditions permit the laparoscopic procedure; in those situations, the open approach is used. It is also used when the spleen is being removed because of a condition called splenomegaly, or enlargement of the spleen. This is because the spleen may be too large to be removed through the much smaller laparoscopic incisions.
In some cases, the procedure may start as a laparoscopic surgery but the surgeon may opt to continue the surgery with an open incision if the spleen is discovered to be significantly enlarged.