Splenectomy: Post-Surgery Care

Medications

Pain Medication

Most children don't need prescription pain medication following discharge from the hospital after a splenectomy — Tylenol or Motrin is usually sufficient. Follow the dosage directions on the label. If your child is still uncomfortable, call Pediatric Surgery and we may prescribe something stronger.

Antibiotics

Your child does not need to be on daily antibiotics if he or she received all necessary immunizations before the splenectomy.

Dressings and Skin Care

On the second day after the surgery, you may remove the gauze and clear plastic dressing placed over your child's incisions. There may be a small amount of blood on the Steri-strips, the small pieces of tape over the incision. This is normal. The Steri-strips can be removed one week after the operation. Your child can bathe with the strips in place.

The skin surrounding the incision may be red and bruised, and the incision may be slightly swollen. This can last several weeks. There will be no visible stitches to remove because they are under the skin. The stitches will dissolve after several weeks. After the incisions are healed, you will be able to feel a firm ridge just underneath. This is called a healing ridge and it is normal. The healing ridge usually lasts for several months before it softens and disappears.

Activities

Your child can resume bathing or showering once he or she is feeling better, which may be as soon as two days after surgery. Your child can also return to school as soon as he or she feels well enough. If you need a letter sent to your child's school regarding the operation and recovery, please contact our office.

Follow-up Appointments

If your child is recovering well, you will not need to be seen by the surgeon again. Our pediatric nurse practitioner will call you to check on your child's recovery. A visit with your child's hematologist one to two weeks after the discharge is recommended.

Signs to Watch for

If your child develops a temperature of 101° F at any time after the operation, penicillin (or erythromycin if your child is allergic to penicillin) will be required to prevent an overwhelming infection. Contact your child's doctor or hematologist. If you cannot reach your child's doctor, go to the nearest emergency room.

Call Pediatric Surgery at (415) 476-2538 if:

  • You have any concerns about your child's recovery
  • Your child has a temperature of 101° F or higher
  • Your child's incision is red
  • There is severe pain and tenderness at the incision
  • Any fluid is coming out of the incision

 

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Surgery Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5B
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 476-2538
Fax: (415) 476-2929

Condition Information