After surgery

When you wake up after surgery to remove a tumour or your spleen, you will probably have a few tubes in place. These are:

  • an intravenous infusion (drip) to give you fluids 
  • drainage tubes from the wound that help it heal.

Your nurse takes your drip out as soon as you can start eating and drinking again. This might take a couple of days. Your doctor listens to your abdomen with a stethoscope. As soon as they can hear your bowel working again, you can start taking sips of water. Gradually you work up to eating and drinking normally.

The drainage tubes usually stay in as long as they carry on draining fluid. This is normally a couple of days.

The nurses help you to get up and gently move around as soon as possible. This helps you to get better and makes complications such as chest infections or blood clots much less likely.

You can usually go home a few days after this type of surgery. You have your stitches out about 2 weeks after your operation. You might go back to the hospital or to your GP surgery for this.

Your nurse arranges an outpatient appointment for you before you leave the hospital. You begin any further treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma as soon as possible after your surgery.

Possible problems after surgery

After having your spleen removed, you are more at risk of infection. You have some vaccinations before your spleen is taken out (or just afterwards). And you have to take antibiotics for the rest of your life to help stop you getting infections.

After having this surgery you should carry a card saying that you have no spleen, in case of medical emergencies. Before you go abroad, talk to your doctor. You might need extra vaccinations.

Follow up after treatment

For support and information, you can call the Cancer Research UK information nurses. They can give advice about who can help you and what kind of support is available. Freephone: 0808 800 4040 - Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
  • Cancer and its Management 
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser  
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2010

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (11th edition)
    VT De Vita, TS Lawrence and SA Rosenberg
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2019  

Last reviewed: 
11 Jan 2021
Next review due: 
11 Jan 2024

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