General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Preparing for Surgery

6 weeks before surgery:

Patients are asked to donate two units of blood prior to surgery.  This is best done 6 weeks before the procedure so the blood count has time to return to normal.  If the patient  is undergoing splenectomy for anemia, he/she will not be able to give their own blood. In that case, we rely on blood obtained from donors the patient selects or from the population at large.  Please remember that the risk of hepatitis or AIDS is very small today since donated blood is thoroughly screened for these viruses.   Nonetheless, it is best to have the patient's own blood available when possible.

Attempts should be made prior to the surgery to return the platelet count to a safe range if the operation is being performed because of a low platelet count.  Corticosteroids and/or gamma globulin usually work.  Transfusions of platelets are rarely if ever necessary.

3-4 weeks before surgery:

Prior to splenectomy you must have vaccinations against pneumococcus and meningiococcus.  This should be done at least 3 to 4 weeks before your surgery to give you time to develop antibodies to the vaccine. 

The day before surgery:

Just about all patients come to the hospital on the day of the operation.  Only patients with significant medical problems unrelated to their spleen are required to come in a day or two before surgery. 

There is nothing special to do the night before surgery except not eat after midnight and get a good night's rest.