In addition to the general risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, surgery to remove the spleen has its own potential complications. The spleen is a highly vascular organ, meaning that it has many blood vessels. This makes the spleen prone to bleeding when it is damaged or being operated on. If the spleen is seriously damaged and bleeding prior to surgery, the bleeding may actually continue during the surgery until the surgeon is able to locate the source of the bleeding and control it.
The spleen is tucked behind the stomach, below the diaphragm muscle and resting near the pancreas and intestine. Because of the proximity to other organs and structures, there is a slight risk that they can be damaged during the procedure.
The risk of infection is slightly higher with this procedure than with a typical surgery, not because of the surgical procedure itself, but because the spleen plays a role in fighting infection. Once the spleen is removed, the immune system does not function as well as it did prior to the surgery.