Every organ has its own function. It is not easy for the body to perform well if any organ is removed. However, there are certain conditions where organ removal is necessary. You must be aware of the functions of a specific organ if you want to know how life changes after the removal of that organ.
Located in the superior abdomen, the spleen is the largest lymphatic organ of our body. It functions as both, a purifier and reservoir of blood and blood cells respectively. It is composed of two areas; the red pulp (purifies blood and removes dead cells) and the white pulp (produces cells involved in immune responses). The spleen plays a vital role in immunity since it helps the body recognize and attack any foreign agents that may enter the blood stream.
The gallbladder is a small pouch-like organ located under the liver. The primary function of the gallbladder is to store the "bile" produced by the liver. Bile is the pigment that helps emulsify fats for ease of absorption. In response to appropriate signals, the gallbladder releases the stored bile into the small intestine through bile ducts. The gallbladder appears deflated when empty, but when full of bile it resembles a small pear.
This six-inch long organ is a tadpole-shaped structure found behind the stomach. The pancreas has two main roles, which make it an exocrine as well as an endocrine organ. The exocrine glands are involved in secreting digestive enzymes which help in breakdown of food. The endocrine function is due to specialized "Islet" cells, which secrete insulin and glucagon, helping to lower and raise blood glucose levels respectively.
What Conditions May Require the Removal of Multiple Organs?
The main reason which may require the removal of these organs is cancer, especially if it has metastasized to nearby organs. However, there are several other diseases and conditions in which surgery may be necessary.
Removal of Spleen - splenectomy
A splenectomy may be performed to treat the following conditions as well:
- Trauma, infections (pus), abscess or cysts
- Blood clots (thrombosis) in vessels of spleen
- Liver cirrhosis
- Disorders of blood cells (idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura (ITP), hemolytic anemia, hereditary spherocytosis, thalassemia, hereditary elliptocytosis, leukemia, sickle-cell anemia)
Removal of Gallbladder
Gallbladder surgery may be required in the case of extreme discomfort and other symptoms due to gallstones. These may include indigestion, epigastric pain, nausea and vomiting.
Removal of Pancreas
A pancreatectomy is mainly performed to remove tumors in the body or head of the pancreas. These include adenocarcinomas, cystadenocarcinomas, neuroendocrine tumors (tumors of the Islet cells, acinar cell tumors, ampullary cancer, duodenal cancer, etc.)
Some other conditions requiring this surgery include:
- Trauma and inflammation
- Severe hyperinsulinemic hypoglycemia
- Necrotizing pancreatitis
- Papillary cystic neoplasm
Life after Removal of Pancreas
Since the body will no longer be inherently supplied with insulin and glucagon, the main complication of a pancreatectomy is diabetes. Thus, insulin injections will be required to manage blood glucose levels and the patient will need to follow a diabetic diet.
To manage enzyme insufficiency, pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy and pancreatic enzyme pills will be prescribed to aid digestion.
Enzyme insufficiency also leads to a condition known as "gastric ileus". This causes symptoms of heartburn and nausea since the stomach now takes longer to empty its contents. However, this condition improves with time and dietary adjustments.
Certain post-operative exercises such as ankle flexes, knee bends and crossed-leg muscle contractions also help the recovery process.
Life after Removal of Spleen
Since the spleen was involved in the production of immune cells, a person becomes highly susceptible to minor and serious infections after a splenectomy. Vaccines, especially for flu and pneumonia should be taken. Prophylactic antibiotics may also be prescribed. The other functions of the spleen are normally compensated for by other bodily organs.
Life after Removal of Gallbladder
Since it has no serious impacts on digestion whatsoever, minor adjustments in diet need to be made after the gallbladder is removed. More frequent bowel movements may be experienced by some people, and very few might require some medication. Some important considerations include:
- Adopting a low-fat, high-fiber diet.
- Avoid fatty and fried foods.
- Consume small and frequent meals.
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