The spleen is found in the abdomen high up on the left side under the diaphragm. It has a very generous blood supply for its weight (about 5 ounces). Because it is made up of delicate, brittle, tissue the spleen is susceptible to trauma after which it can bleed dangerously. Many blood disorders and infections cause the spleen to enlarge. Your hematologist may recommend removal of the spleen (splenectomy) if, by excess consumption, it is causing deficiencies in blood elements such as platelets or red blood cells. Immunization against rare but dangerous infections that can occur after splenectomy is necessary before surgery.
The spleen is an ideal organ to remove by laparoscopy. It can be separated very precisely from its attachments, retrieved in a bag and fragmented into small pieces that will fit through an incision ¾ of an inch long. Even a massively enlarged spleen of 8 or 9 pounds can be removed using hand assisted laparoscopic techniques. An incision about 3 inches long in addition to other tiny laparoscopic incisions is made to let the surgeon place a hand within the abdominal cavity to help manipulate the heavy, bulky organ.