What is Partial Splenectomy?
Your veterinarian may perform a partial splenectomy as an alternative to a total splenectomy when trauma or disease causes damage to your cat’s spleen. A partial splenectomy involves the surgical removal of only part of the spleen as opposed to a total splenectomy wherein the entire spleen is removed. Partial splenectomies are becoming more common in veterinary medicine as surgical techniques improve and understanding of the spleen's role in immune functioning increases. The spleen plays an important immunological function in the removal of antigens and pathogens.
Although your cat can survive without a spleen, the risk of contracting life-threatening sepsis (systemic infection) increases without the presence of this organ. Removing only part of the spleen allows remaining organ tissue to continue performing immune system functions that increase your cat's ability to counteract infection throughout its life. A partial splenectomy may reduce both short and long-term mortality by preserving immune system functioning. A veterinary surgeon with an understanding of surgical techniques appropriate for a partial splenectomy is required to perform this procedure.
Partial Splenectomy Procedure in Cats
A partial splenectomy may be performed as the result of exploratory surgery, if splenic disorder is located during this procedure, or may be the result of test such as x-rays and ultrasounds that reveal an enlarged spleen.
If a partial splenectomy is required due to trauma your veterinarian may need to stabilize your cat prior to surgery by providing blood, intravenous fluids, and oxygen.
If possible (for a non-emergency procedure), your cat should be fasted prior to surgery. Your cat will be sedated, given intravenous anesthesia, a breathing tube will be inserted, and anesthesia maintained by gas.
The area of the abdomen where the incision will be made will be shaved and surgically prepared antiseptically and with surgical drapes. An incision will be made and the area of the spleen to be removed isolated. It is recommended that at least 25 to 30% of splenic tissue be preserved. Due to the vascularization and risk of hemorrhaging, a wedge resection is performed with special care taken with the associated vascularization to the area being resected. Vascular isolation techniques, such as double litigation and caterization will be utilized to minimize the risk of bleeding.
The surgical incision will be closed usually using dissolving sutures or surgical staples.
Efficacy of Partial Splenectomy in Cats
The retention of 25 to 30% of the spleen is thought to be adequate to provide continued immune system functioning of the spleen in your cat. The spleen does not generally regenerate, but when tissue does grow back, a complete splenectomy may be required. Partial splenectomy is not effective for the treatment of splenic rupture or tumors that must be addressed with a complete splenectomy.
Partial Splenectomy Recovery in Cats
Hospitalization after partial splenectomy and restricted activity for one to two weeks postoperatively is required to assist your cat in recovery from a partial splenectomy. An Elizabethan collar to prevent your pet’s interference with the wound is recommended. A modified diet, antibiotics, and painkillers may all be prescribed by your vet postoperatively to aid your cat in its recovery. Follow-up care by your veterinarian to monitor your cat's condition will be required. Close monitoring by the pet owner to ensure signs of infection and illness are addressed is important to avoid fatal complications. Monitoring your cat's dietary intake and output and energy level, and providing the information to your veterinarian to help assist in determining recovery, will be important.
Cost of Partial Splenectomy in Cats
The average cost of a partial splenectomy is $2,500 but ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 for anesthesia, procedure, and postoperative care. Cost may depend on the cost of living in your area and any complications or additional medical care your cat may require as a result of their medical condition.
Cat Partial Splenectomy Considerations
Because the spleen contains a large degree of vascularization, hemorrhaging is a major consideration in the performance of a partial splenectomy. Vascular isolation techniques, including double ligation of blood vessels supplying the area to be removed, will mitigate this concern. In spite of precautions, risk of hemorrhaging exists for partial splenectomy procedures and veterinary surgeons may opt for a complete splenectomy in place of a partial splenectomy depending on your pet's condition, taking into consideration factors such as hemodynamics (fluctuations in blood pressure) and other intraperitoneal injuries present requiring care that may further destabilize blood pressure.
Partial Splenectomy Prevention in Cats
Removal of any hazards in your home that may cause injury will decrease the risk of accidents that may result in peritoneal trauma necessitating surgical intervention for your cat’s spleen. Ensuring that outdoor activity for your cat remains in a confined space or on a leash will prevent accidents with vehicles, which are a major cause of multiple peritoneal traumas which include trauma to the spleen.